Archive for Friday, March 10, 2006

Sidewalks to remain homeowner’s chore, but city might help

Financing programs may ease repair burden

March 10, 2006


Homeowners shouldn't expect the city to help pay for sidewalk repairs in front of their homes anytime soon.

City commissioners on Thursday expressed little interest in changing a city policy that requires property owners to fix deteriorating public sidewalks adjacent to their property. But commissioners said they would like to consider creating special financing programs that could make it easier for homeowners to pay for a sidewalk replacement, which often can cost $3,000 or more on a typical city lot.

"We have a lot of property owners who just can't afford to pay $3,000 in any one year for a sidewalk repair," City Commissioner Mike Amyx said. "And we can't force someone to pay something they can't pay."

Current policy allows the city to make sidewalk repairs in front of a person's home and then add the repair costs onto the homeowner's property tax bill. The city's practice is to add the full amount onto the property tax bill in a single year.

Commissioners at Thursday's study session said they wanted staff members to explore a policy that would allow the homeowner to reimburse the city in multiyear payments.

"The city could serve as the bank, so to speak," said David Corliss, interim city manager. "We could tell them that they owe us $300 per year for 10 years."

Other ways to help residents more easily shoulder sidewalk responsibilities also will be explored. Staff members said they would investigate creating a program that would allow homeowners who are interested in fixing small stretches of sidewalk to have their projects included in a larger annual concrete bid that the city lets. Homeowners still would be responsible for paying for the repairs, but the bid process should produce better prices for homeowners.

Runners use a sidewalk Thursday near 15th and Louisiana streets. Homeowners are expected to maintain the sidewalks in front of their homes, and the Lawrence City Commission is not likely to change that rule.

Runners use a sidewalk Thursday near 15th and Louisiana streets. Homeowners are expected to maintain the sidewalks in front of their homes, and the Lawrence City Commission is not likely to change that rule.

City Commissioner Mike Rundle said he also wanted the city to explore the idea of a grant program that would provide city money to low-income people who have sidewalks along their property that need repair.

Members of the city's public works staff - which oversees many of the city's sidewalks - said they were supportive of the ideas.

"We would love it," said Chuck Soules, director of public works. "Sidewalks have been a real tough issue for us."

That's in part because the city policy only has been enforced on a complaint basis. That means areas where complaints are made are targeted for repairs, but other sidewalks in similar disrepair are not because they have not been the subject of a complaint.

"We get accused of singling people out," Corliss said.

Commissioners agreed to discuss any financial implications related to the changes during budget sessions this summer.


doctorJ 12 years, 1 month ago

I dont own the sidewalk, infact when i accidently parked my car hanging over the sidewalk I got a Ticket! So why should I have to pay for the repairs!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

"or the City should repair Macons sidewalk without raising my taxes!"

Right after they pull a rabbit out of their Dada hat, I suppose.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

But if you can't run on Macon's sidewalk, you'll whine because the city commission isn't doing its job. If the city picks up the tab for repairing Macon's sidewalk, you'll moan about it being "socialist."

Damned if they do, and damned if they don't.

common_cents 12 years, 1 month ago

Personally, I think the sidewalks should be included as part of the city's infrastructure.

If they are not, and I as a homeowner am responsible for the area where the sidewalk resides, why can I not decide to just put in a pretty cocoa shell walkway and remove the sidewlak altogether? Much cheaper, nicer to look at and better for you to run on.

Under current policy or if the city maintains the sidewalks, it's the same effect, we get taxed in one form or another. So I say let the city do it, or be prepared for some creative sidewalks. I like orange.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 1 month ago

I think, given the current laws, it appears the city is making some positive steps in the right direction and I'm glad to see it.
recently, I was thinking that the coverage and noise about fixing sidewalks had subsided and then nothing was going to be done! so, this is good.
I do agree with common_cents' perspective. how fair is it: the city effectively takes this land away from land owners, then requires them to maintain it...okay, if the city widens the road in front of your house, takes out part of your front yard for it...then you're charged for building and maintaining that widened road because it used to be your property...don't make sense that way does it?

however, I repeat, given the current laws, I think city staff have obviously been putting on their thinking caps, and working very hard...hope this does result in improvements.
and as the article and comments point out, sidewalk repair should no longer be on an only-by-complaint basis. we need a program to get all of them, that's fair and makes more sense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 1 month ago

There's been plenty of whining about the condition of sidewalks on this board. The commission appears to be taking steps to address this problem.

Any of you whiners wish to chime in on this? Do you have any new and original name-calling you want to try out?

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