Officials discuss fees for property maintenance violation appeals
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — At Monday night’s Public Protection meeting, officials discussed whether or not residents should be charged for appealing a property maintenance violation.
Currently, any resident who violates a city ordinance has the ability to appeal the ruling in person. District 10 Alder Mike Phillips would like to see a fee added.
This is due to the fact that many who do appeal a violation fail to show to defend their appeal. Phillips feels paying in will motivate those in the process to show up to meetings.
Theoretically, if an appeal is successful, a resident would be refunded the money put into the appeal.
However, District 9 Alderperson Polly Dalton feels that this may put an undue hardship on income-restricted individuals, or those without the flexibility to attend a city meeting.
“It puts an undue financial hardship on residents to go through the process of appealing,” said Dalton.
“The system is set up to disproportionally reflect people who are probably in lower income brackets, because the likelihood is of them maybe not maintaining their property.”
Dalton would like to have more staff time put towards empowering those and connecting those who violate property maintenance ordinances with community resources to help.
City Attorney Logan Beveridge likened the lack of attendance for these appeals and the pending decisions comparable to absence of those who are no-shows for traffic tickets. Beveridge would go on to suggest creating a separate appeals process, or even a separate appeals board, which the city is able to do.
Mayor Mike Wiza is open to hear all potential options on the matter.
“I wouldn’t suggest that we deny an appeal just because you don’t show up; you deny an appeal or uphold an appeal based on evidence,” said Wiza. “But it certainly helps to state your case.”
District 5 Alder Meleesa Johnson points to past talks of hiring a community improvement coordinator to help individuals with property maintenance, and finds some faults with the current system. She prefers government to be a resource to the community.
“There is a serious lack of connection between our community and what the ordinances are.” said Johnson.
Johnson supports a committee that could meet at different times to hear more appeals from residents.
District 10 Alder Mike Phillips finished with final comments before moving on to another item.
“Let’s face it, three to five percent of the people are the perpetrators. They’re the ones putting the couches on the lawn, they’re the one’s not shoveling and everything else — but the rest of us are paying for the staff time. That’s not fair; they should cough up a little bit for it.” said Phillips.
Ultimately, no action was taken as this is just a discussion item. Further discussions on the matter are likely to take place at future meetings.