Residents are complaining about snow-covered and slippery sidewalks in the village of Iola.
The subject led to a lengthy discussion by the Village Board at its Jan. 9 meeting.
“Because of the complaints, we came up with a solution for the balance of this year,” said Village Attorney Bruce Meagher.
He presented a notice “Directing the Removal of Snow and Ice” for the board’s approval.
According to the proposal, if a sidewalk is not cleared within 24 hours of receiving the notice, the village “will cause it to be removed and the expense incurred shall be charged to and paid” by the property owner. “If the charges remain unpaid for more than 60 days, they will be added to (the) tax bill as a special tax.”
Ordinances state sidewalks must be cleared within 48 hours of a snowfall.
“This (ordinance) has been on the books forever, but we’ve never enforced it,” said Village President Joel Edler, who participated in the meeting via teleconference.
“If they don’t clean them, the village can clean the sidewalks and charge the home/business owner,” Police Chief Bob Prahl told the County Post West.
The process begins with a complaint, after which the Iola Police Department had issued a verbal warning.
The written notice will now replace the verbal warning.
Not all board members were in favor of enforcing the ordinance but approved issuing the written notice for the 2011-12 winter.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t have sidewalks, but they have complaints,” said Trustee Don Loken. “I wish I didn’t have a sidewalk. There’s times when you can’t get it done in the time period.”
Loken said it is expensive and difficult to maintain a sidewalk.
“The ones who have sidewalks get the burden,” he said. “Everybody should pay the assessment.”
Meagher said the village will contract with someone to clear the sidewalks at a cost of about $10 per hour. He noted it could cost $17,000-$20,000 for the village to purchase the equipment.
“I don’t think there’s any choice for this winter,” Meagher said.
One resident told the board several sidewalks were not cleared after a recent snowfall. He claimed some of the problem areas were on Main, Division, Jackson and State streets.
He also noted that several homeowners and businesses have not cleared the sidewalk along State Highway 49, north of Iola-Scandinavia Elementary School.
“A lot of those people are not able to shovel their own,” Trustee Lee Johnson said.
Edler added, “I think, other than a few, our shoveling is well done.”