ohNTARIO – A group of volunteers dedicated to reviewing Ontario’s current civil penalties regulations for enforcing the code met for the first time last week.
While enforcement of the code is still ongoing, civil penalties have been suspended since May 6, when Ontario city council opted to do so after learning that more than $ 1 million in unpaid fines on 75 accounts. The council ruled that his predecessors had not anticipated such high fines and fees when the penalties were enacted several years ago.
On November 17, the Ontario City’s Special Code Enforcement Committee held its first regular in-person meeting. The committee discussed how the discounts are handled, who would pay for the cleanup and who would do the cleanup.
President David Sullivan suggested the city come in and help clean up the properties of residents or businesses that don’t comply, which would then cost them a cleaning fee.
However, the question was then asked by code enforcement officer Rick Reyna as to who would do the cleanup, whether it was Jacobs, the city’s public works contractor, or another outside contractor who would be hired by the city as needed.
The committee also discussed how to increase the budget for code enforcement agencies and offset the cost associated with cleaning for low-income residents.
Ontario City Councilor John Kirby answered both questions by saying that city council was awaiting the hiring of a new police chief before discussing the aforementioned budget.
Kirby also suggested that the city of Ontario set up a fund to help low-income residents who couldn’t pay their fines.
Kirby provided some concern notes which were captured in the official meeting minutes that followed: developing a sanctions matrix, a process for communicating violations, developing referral societies to help offenders mitigate their problems, and consider funding funds to offset the cost associated with the cleanup for the poor to whom, Kirby previously said.
The committee voted unanimously for prosecutor Zack Olson to address the committee at its December meeting. Olson represented the Mayor of the City of Ontario, Riley Hill, in his lawsuit against the City of Ontario over civil penalties. The court resolved the case in Hill’s favor.
The group should meet two hours per month. The next meeting is scheduled for December 16 and is expected to take place at City Hall.