Heights looking to form new ordinance department

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — A first reading for the creation of a new ordinance department to help handle infractions in the city was given its first reading by the City Council last week.

The council next meets Feb. 25, when the required second reading needed to create the department could occur.

The Department of Ordinance Enforcement would replace the system in use by the city, which includes a department staffed by two full-time and two part-time officers.

The city charter allows for four ordinance officers, three full-time and one part-time, but the department has been running short-handed while seeking to fill the third full-time position.

The new department would have three full-time employees and one supervisor all year as well as several part-time employees during the spring and summer as needed.

The head of the new department would be selected by Mayor Dan Paletko, who has not announced any potential candidates.

Ordinance officers would have the capability of issuing the citations for the Fire, Building and Engineering, and Public Works departments; animal control; and Tax Increment Finance Authority.

They would be authorized by the city charter to investigate complaints, issue violations and warnings and appear in court.

The officers will also be trained in animal and vector control, something council members have previously said every ordinance officer needed.

Corporate Counsel Gary Miotke said the officers would be responsible for helping to enforce numerous ordinances under the city charter in addition to those related to codes relating to property maintenance, plumbing, building or other construction issues.

He said enforcement will be made on violations currently covered by city code, changes to city code made in the future and any other under the city’s authority to enforce under state law.

DPW Administrator William Zimmer, who is in charge of the current ordinance officers, said more than 4,000 citations were handed out in 2013 for various violations.

Zimmer said the city has issued many citations, but that he believes the number will gradually reduce as residents discover that the city is verifying that ordinances are being followed.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)