LOCKPORT – The Common Council is considering a speeded-up process for fining property owners for violating city ordinances on sidewalk snow shoveling, lawn mowing, garbage placement and unlicensed dogs.
Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, D-4th Ward, proposed Wednesday that the city should use the same procedure as it does for parking tickets: print the fines right on the tickets and have people who don’t want to contest them simply pay the fine at the City Clerk’s Office.
At present, violators of the property upkeep rules are given appearance tickets, which means they have to go to City Court and face a judge.
Schrader said, “I want Rob [Turner, the enforcement officer] to have the ability to write a ticket: ‘Hey, pal, you’re guilty.’ ”
“Your way would free up a lot of court time,” said Alderman John Lombardi III, R-1st Ward.
Mayor Michael W. Tucker said, “You can plead guilty and pay at the window, or go to court.”
Alderwoman Kathryn J. Fogle, R-3rd Ward, said the summonses to court often don’t result in fines, because by the time the case goes to court, “They shoveled their sidewalk in that amount of time, or they moved the mattress in that amount of time.”
Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said for this plan to function, the Council would have to come up with a fine schedule to print on the tickets, instead of leaving penalties up to the judge’s discretion. Lockport parking tickets list the fines for the various types of violations.
Ottaviano said the plan will be drafted into a proposed local law for the Council to vote on at a future meeting.
On another topic Wednesday, Ottaviano said the city received four bids to buy the Sprint cellphone lease on the Outwater Park water tower.
He said only two are going to be considered: the ones that envisioned simply buying the lease and collecting money from Sprint, allowing the city to lease additional antenna space on the water tower, if it can. Two other bidders sought to buy rights to all the space on the tower.
Ottaviano said the bids were within $20,000 of each other, so it wasn’t financially worthwhile to give up all the rights. “If we could lease the rest of the tower, why wouldn’t we?” he asked.
In 2000, the Council approved a 25-year deal with Sprint, in which the company agreed to pay $15,408 per year for the use of the tower. The city would collect $184,896 over the next 12 years if it kept the lease. However, in December, Landmark Dividend of El Segundo, Calif., offered to buy the lease for a slightly larger lump sum, and the city then sought other proposals.
Ottaviano said Landmark is one of the two finalists.