Water capital fee, exterior code are still being mulled

Ken Lahmers Published:

by MIKE LESKO  |  REPORTER
Aurora — Two proposed city proposals — a water capital fee and an exterior property maintenance code — are under consideration by Council.
The water capital fee was placed on second reading at Council’s Nov. 19 meeting and is scheduled to be voted on Dec. 3.
The maintenance code remained on hold.

THE WATER CAPITAL FEE
City officials are considering putting in place a $20 water capital fee as part of the quarterly water and sewer billings to help provide funds to pay for future water line breaks.
Finance Director Bob Paul said the average resident would pay $80 more a year, and the fee would bring in about $400,000 a year.
“Almost all residents would pay the $20 fee,” Paul said.
Council President/Acting Mayor James Fisher said it is not a popular recommendation.
“This is purely a business decision,” Fisher said. “We look at it as a small business that the city operates.”
“Why is that when you need water repairs, you have to tax the citizens?” resident George Mazzaro asked city officials Nov. 19. “Eighty dollars a year is a lot of money.”
“[Finding a solution] is not an easy task,” Fisher responded. “The challenge we have is that not everyone in Aurora uses city water. We have to come up with [more] capital reserve.”

THE MAINTENANCE CODE
The exterior property maintenance code was scheduled for a third reading Oct. 22, but a vote has been postponed twice since then.
Fisher said Nov. 19 that the exterior property maintenance code “has gotten the most commentary I’ve heard in recent times [from residents.]”
“The last thing we want to do is race through something that is so controversial,” Councilman Carl Rausch added.
The way the proposed code currently reads, enforcement would be based on citizen complaints and visual inspection by city inspectors, and discretion would be given to enforcement officials.
Any code must have discretion built into it for enforcing agents to appropriately apply it, city officials said.
While the code has been written as precisely as possible, every potential violation is unique in some circumstance and there must be enforcement discretion allowed for matters which will fall into gray areas.
Resident Ted Hollo told city officials Nov. 19 that he does not like the fact that neighbors would be turning in other neighbors. “That is appalling to me,” he said.
Hollo also said he dislikes that a maintenance code official would be the judge and jury.
“You cannot put this in the hands of one individual as to how this will be decided,” he said.
“Cosmetic issues become a matter of personal taste. Nearly all the specifics are already covered [by city ordinances].”
Planning-Zoning-Building Director Rich Wehrenberg previously said the new code would deal with major exterior issues on homes, adding that officials would not require improvements if “one nail was out of place or if shingles are curling.”
All residential buildings, and commercial and industrial buildings, including exterior equipment, could be covered by the code, but it does not cover the interior of buildings, officials said.
An inspector cannot come onto a property without permission, but may go to the owner’s front door to see if anyone is home, officials said.
An inspector is allowed to note whatever is seen from the city right of way or from any property he has permission to be on.
Email: mlesko@recordpub.com
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

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