|Plattsburgh City Councilor Rachelle Armstrong talks about the problems involved with snow removal at the Sidewalks Safety Community Forum held at Plattsburgh State|
© 2015 Luke T. Bush
The public good and money. You can’t get away from it.
Held at Plattsburgh State the Sidewalks Safety Community Forum addressed the problem of impassable winter sidewalks, people being forced to travel in the street, a potentially dangerous option.
The system works this way:
1. Plattsburgh City property owners are responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks adjacent to their property. Snow must be removed by 24 hours after a storm.
2. The first step is for a citizen – not a city employee – to file a complaint with the Building Inspector’s Office.
3. The BIO will investigate and verify the complaint. If there’s a problem it contacts the property owner and requests the sidewalk be cleared.
4. With scofflaws the city will send out Public Works employees to shovel the sidewalk. Then the city bills the property owner for the work.
So how much money has been raised from violators being billed? How many bills have been sent out over the years?
During a break in the forum I spoke with City Councilor Rachelle Armstrong, trying to find answers to my questions. She is on the Snow Removal Advisory Committee that was recently formed to seek solutions to the winter sidewalk problem.
"All I know from looking at the reports from the last year and three months,” she explained, “that there has been an increase in the number of complaints. I couldn't tell you the percentage of increase but I could say a noticeable increase."
So what kind of numbers are we talking about when it comes to billing?
She didn’t know.
Was she going to get that information?
"Yes,” she replied. “A matter of fact I put in a request to the Building Inspector's Office in order to check with the mayor to see if we to get a hold of that data."
The data should be interesting because it will reveal how much money the city has received through its sidewalk snow removal program. Also the total number of notices and bills sent out should reflect on how strict enforcement has been.
During her presentation at the forum Rachelle mentioned that like many other cities Plattsburgh has budget problems. Funding for new programs was limited.
One wonders how much money is being funneled into the city’s coffers by billed scofflaws who paid their bills, funds that should help balance the municipal budget.
Will I have to FOIL to get the answer?