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Mayor's message: Dealing with snow

Well it has finally happened this fall, our first coating of white, fluffy -- the preschoolers are all excited -- snow! Since the temperatures have dropped, and it would seem this whitewashing of our city will be hanging around for what may be an...

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Well it has finally happened this fall, our first coating of white, fluffy - the preschoolers are all excited - snow!

Since the temperatures have dropped, and it would seem this whitewashing of our city will be hanging around for what may be an extended period of time, it might be prudent to review Mitchell City Code, Title 8, Chapter 1, Part 7, Snow and Ice Removal.

This portion of City Code requires the removal of snow and ice from adjacent public sidewalks, those sidewalks in the public right-of-way, within 48 hours after the snowfall or formation of ice. In short, property owners are required to remove the snow or ice from the sidewalks which are in the public right-of-way (boulevard) around their property. What happens if that does not happen?

If the property owner does not remove the snow or ice, the city code gives the city, via the public works director, the ability to have it removed and the property owner pays the cost of the removal. Before you start thinking, "Hey, the city takes care of it and I won't have to leave my comfy, warm house," let me point out the cost is above what you may be willing to bear. The charge, in general, is set by resolution. Currently it is: First Offense - $75 for the first 50 linear feet, plus $1/linear foot after the first 50 feet; Second offense - $200 for the first 50 linear feet, plus $1/linear foot after the first 50 feet; Third offense - $300 for the first 50 linear feet, plus $1/linear foot after the first 50 feet. This work is completed for the most part through contracting with snow removal companies.

How does the city recoup those costs? Simply put, the property owner gets billed through the finance office. That process involves the finance officer preparing an estimate of assessment (the roll) against the lot or lots, for the costs of removal of the snow. The assessment roll is published along with the date and time the council will meet to consider the assessment roll. This advertisement takes place for two consecutive weeks.

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The Council then meets and reviews the assessment(s). If they determine the estimates are correct, they approve the assessment roll by resolution; if they find the estimates are incorrect, adjustments are made to correct them, and then they approve the assessment roll. This can lead to a lien against the property, or it could be added to the taxes on a property, with interest, of course, at approximately 8 percent annually.

How does the 48 hour time frame get set? It is based on information from the National Weather Service from the Mitchell Airport.

This explanation is simplified and paraphrased. If you are interested in reading it for yourself, this and all city codes can be read online at the city of Mitchell website, cityofmitchell.org, under "Your Government," top of the pulldown menu that appears when your cursor is on "Your Government." The one caveat is this particular ordinance was updated in September and has not been uploaded to the website. It is still available via the website, though.

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