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City council addresses nuisance issues

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By Jimmie Earls

At Tuesday’s Springfield City Council meeting, several council members brought up nuisance problems concerning barking animals and junk vehicles, and they discussed the problems with police chief Fred Armstrong.

“Do we have an ordinance for barking animals?” asked council member Debbie Wakefield. “There is a house on High Street, and the back yard runs behind Small World (day care center). There’s a huge dog there, and they have it on a line running back and forth at the rear of the property. It constantly barks, and I don’t know about the children being out there, and there’s no fence. It’s always barking, and this homeowner says that she can’t sleep.”

“They have to be on a chain or a leash,” said Armstrong.

“I think we need to check on the nuisance ordinance,” said city attorney Bill Robinson. “I have not been contacted about this.”

“She called me and she was wanting to know if we had anything, and I told her I would check,” added Wakefield. “She tried to discuss it with her neighbor, but it didn’t go over because the neighbor said that the dog was in their yard. It very well may be, but it’s still noisy.”

Council member John Hardin brought up the problem with abandoned vehicles in the city.

“What about putting cars in yards?” Hardin asked Armstrong.

The chief replied, “If we get a complaint, we’ll go investigate, and if it’s creating a nuisance, we’ll take photographs and then tell the owner that they have so many days to clean it up.”

Hardin said the cars in question are on property that is not owner-occupied.

“It’s a nuisance if the cars are blocking access, but if they are on a driveway and are legally licensed, then we can see if they will move them, but it has to be considered a nuisance.”

Hardin added that a neighbor of his “has three cars in the back yard, and one out front that has had a flat tire for a month or month and a half.”

Springfield assistant treasurer Marie Blandford said she has sent out letters regarding junk vehicles in the city, but has not received any responses.

“I’ve sent several letters out regarding vehicles, the ones that are not licensed and have not been moved in quite some time,” said Blandford. “Most of them, you can tell they are not licensed. They’ve been sitting there for years.”

Robinson said, “I think the ordinance requires only one notice, and then you can do a summons. People just don’t respond to letters anymore, but typically, the only thing that gets their attention is a summons.”

“The chief also had one of his officers check on a vehicle in someone’s back yard and it turned out to be registered and the owner said he still uses it,” added City Administrator Laurie Smith. “So one man’s trash could be another man’s treasure, we found that out.”

In other business

• The city got some good news and some bad news on insurance issues. The bad news is that the city’s health insurance rates are increasing by 20 percent. Smith said in a written report to the council, “We have other options with increased co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses that will be considered during the budget committee meetings. We have been advised that all cities are seeing a similar increase.”

“The good news is that we are going to save $6,000 on our property insurance,” said Springfield Mayor John Cecconi.

Last year’s premium for the city was $70,000, while the quote from the Kentucky League of Cities for the coming year is $64,000.

• The city’s three-percent tourism tax continues to bring in revenue. Total receipts for the three-month period from December to February were $50,833.90. In December 2009, the city collected $18,298.95, while the amount for January was $15,958.22 and February’s total was $15,226.59. Past due receipts collected were $1,350.14. After splitting the revenue with the Springfield Tourism Commission, the city took in $25,416.95.

• The city received one bid for a surplus 1969 American LaFrance fire truck. Craig Coslow submitted the lone bid of $500.

Robinson also suggested that the city try selling the fire truck on eBay.

“Well, if the fire department says it’s not enough, then I think they should put it on eBay,” Cecconi said. “I don’t think it should fall upon the city. But we’ll hold this bid and they may say that it’s sufficient money. I was surprised, I didn’t think we would get that much.”