The City of Burlington has recommended a change that would direct complaints about sidewalks that have not been shoveled to the Department of Public Works. (File photo)

Complaints would go directly to DPW, rather than police dispatchers

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

A change in communication protocol related to residents who fail to remove snow and ice from sidewalks in the City of Burlington remains under consideration after a Feb. 21 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The proposed change, according to Public Works Director Peter Riggs, is because of Burlington’s decision to join Racine County Communications Center for joint dispatch services.

“Basically this ordinance is just a procedural change due to the changing in dispatch, where they used to handle the calls from residents with concerns about noncompliant sidewalk snow removal,” Riggs said.

Before joining joint dispatch, when the city had dispatchers at the police station, dispatchers would forward complaints to the police officers.

After inspection by officers, they could issue a notice to the public works department, which is tasked with taking corrective action.

Corrective action includes a second inspection by public works staff followed by sending a notice of noncompliance to property owners who have five days to clear the sidewalk of snow and ice.

Riggs said eliminating police department inspection allows officers more time to complete law enforcement tasks.

Without dispatchers at the police department, according to Riggs, clerical staff at the public works department will process each complaint.

“That has now been moved to the clerical staff at the department of public works,” he said.

While Riggs recommended the change in communication protocol, the issue of snow removal itself was raised by some aldermen, including Jon Schultz II of District 3.

“How common are the complaints and do we actually have to fine anybody?” Schultz asked.

Riggs, who reports two property owners have been noncompliant this winter, said it is an administrative charge and not necessarily a fine.

“It is not a fine, it is passing along the expense of clearing the sidewalks,” Riggs said. “We pass along an administrative charge, an hourly rate, material charge and also a vehicle charge.”

For the complete story, including the amount the city charges for the service, see the March 1 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.