Residents urge emphasis on city code enforcements
Some Tonganoxie residents are asking the city to continue to look at ways to improve blighted properties and other areas that might need addressed.
Former Tonganoxie City Council member Jamie Lawson gave a presentation in front of the council and roughly 50 other residents at the June 3 council meeting that discussed concern about residences in the community that could be cleaned up, including properties that have been repeat offenders when it comes to ordinance violations.
Lawson stressed often during the presentation that his words were not an attack on any residents, but he hoped a way that some properties could be cleaned up for the overall betterment of the community.
Tonganoxie High School principal Mark Farrar also was in attendance. Lawson noted that Farrar could provide opportunities for cleanup help through student groups if needed.
The city currently has a building inspector who also handles code enforcement, but as the city officials and the council discussed, he can be spread thin in his duties.
City Manager George Brajkovic said city staff would look into potential options for the council to consider, including adding a code enforcement officer.
The building inspector/code enforcement position carries a budget impact of about $83,000 with salary, benefits and other expenses. The city likely looking at a $70,000 budget impact for a separate code enforcement position with benefits and other expenses.
Brajkovic said some neighboring communities have a combined position as Tonganoxie does, while others have separate positions.
Lawson showed some examples code violations, such as specific vehicles parked on the grass, etc., as possible code issues also, but Brajkovic noted that a 2010 update to the ordinance came because citizens pushed for the ability to have more freedom, for instance, in where to park an RV on their property.
There was a consensus among council members that there can be extenuating circumstances with some properties, and that the main concern is with repeat violations that don’t really improve the appearance of properties.
With a new library being built, turf being installed at Beatty Field and the potential for an upgraded high school campus, Lawson said it was imperative that the community continue to put its best foot forward.
Properties that violate code ordinances can be detrimental to attracting new homeowners and retaining others, Lawson noted.
Council Member Dave Bennett, who formerly served many years as fire chief and in other capacities with the fire department, said the situation is nothing new.
“This has been an issue as long as I’ve been associated with the city,” Bennett said.
Bennett mentioned the idea of an informational campaign for Tonganoxie citizens about what is allowed and not allowed in the city, per code ordinances.
The council’s next regular meeting is 7 p.m. Monday in City Council Chambers, 321 Delaware St.