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Olean – The City Council toughened the penalties for digging in areas that contain city-owned utilities, ending what officials called a “business as usual” attitude when it comes to unpermitted excavation.

The new measure approved Tuesday night hikes the penalty by $100, while also doubling the cost of the permit.

In a previous meeting, Ward 5 Alderman Jim Finch said the regulation as written before really had no teeth and created a bad situation for those who professionally deal with the pipes and wires underground throughout the city.

Tom Windus, director of public works, said past practice allowed residents to do what was needed, and if found to be operating without a permit, even after completion of the job, they could get a retroactive permit for the work.

The Council also established the mayor as contact person for a pair of grants that will help improve the city’s infrastructure. The mayor would deal with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and ensure compliance with state environmental law on both the Wastewater Treatment Plant project and the North Union Street infrastructure project.