The Blair City Council on Tuesday approved three ordinances to amend city code and change the violations bureau for several reoccurring issues seen by police and the city attorney.
Namely, dogs at large, engine braking, negligent driving and nuisances, City Attorney Desirae Solomon said.
Individuals who have received citations for those such things can pay the fines at city hall within 10 days without a formal filing in the court system.
Solomon said that system works well for parking tickets and other non-moving violations.
“But after being here for three years, we're running into certain issues with certain types of cases,” she said.
The changes will allow cases to go through the court system if need be and be included on a person's record.
In the case of dogs at large, Solomon said, often dogs bite another animal or a person. While the owner cited may pay the fine, the victim may pay hundreds of dollars in veterinary bills or medical bills for their animal or themselves if they were injured.
“I don't have any ability to ask the judge to order that person whose dog got out to pay restitution,” she said.
Instead, the victim would have to get an attorney or sue for damages.
“We want to make sure I have the ability to help the public in those situations to make sure restitution is paid,” Solomon said.
Engine braking has long been a problem in Blair. However, the citations were not placed on the driver's record.
In fact, Solomon said, in many cases those individuals cited were often calling city hall the same day before leaving the city to pay the fine, which was $25. Under the violations bureau, there was no record of those drivers who paid multiple fines.
“We were never going to court on those particular things, but it wasn't really solving the issue of having them take it serious that Blair means business, don't engine brake in our city,” Solomon said.
The ordinance removed engine braking from the violations bureau and instead gives drivers a court date. The cases can still be settled with fines, but the violations will be put on their record.
Nuisances that are often seen as in issue in the city include excess weeds, lawns not mowed, “dirty yards” and uninhabitable residences.
The city council's police committee met on the issues prior to the ordinances being presented.
“We felt that this was probably a prudent method of going to try to get some of the things changed and keep more responsible for what we do,” council member Kevin Hall said.
The council waived the three readings to pass each ordinance.