City seeks fines for lack of sidewalk snow shoveling

Clarkston News Editor
City hall has been issuing warnings to residents not shoveling snow from their sidewalks, but will be issuing tickets.
“The city office identified six properties in the city not shoveling their sidewalks and will soon be issuing citations,” said City Manager Jonathan Smith at the Jan. 22 City Council meeting. “Ordinance 140 authorizes the city to issue a $100 citation for not shoveling within 24 hours and additional amounts if the city pays to shovel the walk.”
If city employees shovel, the total cost would be $150, Smith said.
Hardship cases should be considered for leniency, said Council member Sharron Catallo.
“Unfortunately some walks not shoveled are senior citizens’. This is a problem,” Catallo said. “Sometimes they don’t have people who can come out and do it.”
“Some people have called me, and it’s not a problem,” Smith said. “He (Mike Speagle, Clarkston DPW) goes over and shovels the walk. Anybody in tough situation like that, we’re not going to write a ticket. It’s those who have the resources to shovel and choose not to do it. If there are extenuating circumstances, I would listen to that.”
DPW workers have been shoveling sidewalks in the downtown business district this winter, Smith said.
“We send kids out with shovels and they shovel into the street. Mike comes by with the skid-steer to take it away,” Smith said. “We hope it’s a help to the businesses.”
The city manager was also asked to prepare a proposal to purchase a snowblower for the city to clear all city sidewalks, but City Council rejected the idea unanimously.
A snow blower from Weingartz would cost $2,209.15, and the annual cost to clear the approximately five miles of sidewalks in the city would be about $1,600, for labor, gas, and maintenance, Smith said.
The funds would have to be rebudgeted, he said.
“The money’s not in the plan right now – we would have to rob Peter to pay Paul,” he said. “It would be a nice benefit for homeowners, the elderly – (but) it would be a new responsibility for the city.”
The city should keep working on how to provide the service effectively, said Council member Jason Kneisc.
“When I moved back here, I was shocked by how little services were provided given the taxes paid,” Kneisc said.
Council member Scott Reynolds said it seems above and beyond what is expected.
“The only time I’ve seen this service offered was when I lived in an apartment,” Reynolds said. “We struggle with basic maintenance too much to offer this a-la-carte luxury service – we would not be good stewards of the dollars we have to work with.”
“I’m not so sure it’s a luxury,” said Council member Eric Haven. “To me, it’s the public safety thing.”
“It can still be brought to the budget committee,” said Council member Sue Wylie.