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Giving it Teeth

Grayson considers revision to nuisance ordinance

Local IKORCC senior representative Jerry Yates has been selected to fill the city council seat vacated by councilman Duane Suttles. Suttles has accepted a job with the City of Grayson as code enforcement officer.

Grayson city council began their regular June meeting by swearing in new councilman Jerry Yates, but then it was straight down to business. Yates, who has been a regular fixture at Grayson City Council meetings, works as a senior representative with the local carpenter’s union, the Indiana Kentucky Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (IKORCC). He’s also responsible for introducing a fair bidder’s ordinance to city council that – in addition to giving preference to local contractors to help keep dollars circulating in the local economy – requires all contractors working on city projects to ensure that their employees and subcontractors are paying city payroll taxes and maintaining worker’s compensation insurance on their employees. Yates filled the seat vacated by long time city councilman and firefighter Duane Suttles, who accepted a position with the city as code enforcement officer. Yates will also take Suttles place as the city council representative on the Park Board.

After Yates was sworn in Mayor George Steele presented council with a preliminary budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. While Steele said the budget was “not as bad” as they initially thought it was going to be, finances in the city were “going to be tight for a while.” Steele asked council to study those numbers before a special meeting on June 23 to consider approving the budget.

“All the numbers are in order for you, so you can see where we’re at,” Steele told council.

The main item of discussion on the agenda, however, was suggested revisions to the city’s nuisance ordinance. Suttles, in his new role as code enforcement officer, said that in addition to “some language that needs cleaned up” in the ordinance, he was looking at ways to “add teeth” to the ordinance.

While he noted the city has “had a lot of luck collecting” on mowing fees for out of compliance properties, more needs to be done on enforcement to ensure property owners stay in compliance.

Yates asked Suttles why the $100 per day fine on unmowed grass wasn’t a sufficient deterrent and Suttles explained that while it could help spur some action, the city couldn’t leave those lots unmowed. But, he noted, the city can only charge when the property owners are out of compliance. Once the city took action to mow the grass that wasn’t being maintained by the property owners, those properties were no longer out of compliance, and the city could only charge the property owners for previous days that they were out of compliance. When the property owners lived outside the city, as many of those with unkempt properties do, he explained, it made it even more difficult for the city to collect on those properties.

Suttles said the city is tracking those instances though. He said they are also looking at the possibility of tying penalties for commercial properties that are out of compliance with their utilities. That way, he explained, the city could suspend utilities if the property was not in compliance as a means of “giving teeth” to the ordinance.

In other action council approved a motion to place speed bumps on Wildcat Drive, off of Midland Trail, after residents along that street requested them as a speed deterrent for vehicles and collected the appropriate number of signatures.

Steele also discussed the extension of water lines outside of the city toward Grayson Lake and considering other sources of water for the city.
“Right now we have an adequate source of water,” Steele said, but “down the road” the city might need additional water.

“Probably not in my lifetime,” he said, but the city needs to look to the future. “There might be a need for a better source of water in 10 or 15 years.”

He told council that the city was in the process of a study, with the Corps of Engineers, “that will tell us if that’s the right thing to do or not.”

“While I’m comfortable with what we have right now, I’m not comfortable with what we may need 20 years from now,” he added.

“It’s a long, drawn out process,” to make those plans for future needs, he told council, but it was important for the city to consider.

Steele also addressed recent social unrest in other communities related to racial strife and police brutality, and said that he was happy to see students from KCU and Grayson citizens discussing these issues and raising awareness in a peaceful manner. He said that he wanted Grayson’s minority population to feel secure in the city, noting that Grayson has been “blessed” by the contributions of their black and minority citizens, and recalling the legacy of folks like Dr. Rodney T. Gross and their positive impact on the community.

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