Leesburg Considers Refuse Ordinance Rewrite

LEESBURG – Leesburg Town Council is looking at rewording its refuse ordinance to define exactly what refuse is.

Council President Christina Archer said one of the problems the town has had is people having excessive trash and other debris on their properties.

Councilman Tom Moore said the town has found itself playing catch up.

The current ordinance reads: “It shall be unlawful for anyone to permit the dumping of refuse, junk of any kind, or piling of leaves, grass clippings, weeds or other similar piles of refuse, or to allow any such condition to remain on any lot or tract of land in the town and the allowance of such a condition to remain upon any lot or tract of land is hereby declared to be a nuisance.”

Moore said he would like to add some language in the next couple of months to define the word refuse because people could have different perspectives of what refuse is.

He doesn’t think the town has a problem, but “you never know what tomorrow might bring.”

Moore also brought up possibly adding fines to the ordinance. He said he liked the “three strikes, you’re out rule,” where on the first offense the resident would get a warning, then a fine on the second offense. On the third offense, the town would go through the necessary legal channels.

“I would like to see us do that with all of our fines,” Moore said.

Resident Sue Charlton asked if the change were to be enacted, would certain refuse be grandfathered in. Moore said no, the town can’t grandfather in junk on someone’s property.

Street Commissioner Craig Charlton asked who would be responsible for any fines. Moore said that was a good question if the property was a rental.

Councilman Doug Jones said, in his eyes, the property owners are ultimately responsible for the property.

Town attorney Nick Jacobs said the way the ordinance is currently written, it would cover both tenants and landlord. Clerk-Treasurer Mike Searfoss suggested the town could cite both the tenant and landlord on the first offense, but you have to find out who’s responsible for it, whether it’s the tenant or landlord.

Moore asked Jacobs to look into it.

Archer said the Council needs to keep the topic on its agenda for further discussion.

In other business, the Council:

• Approved a Memorial Day parade at 10:30 a.m. May 30.

• Jeff Rowe, partner with Baker Tilly, said the public accounting and consulting firm is making good progress on the town’s sewer rate review. He believed the firm should have a report to present to the Council during its May 9 meeting.

• Learned things were moving forward with the town’s contract for traffic control.

Jones said the Council had a contract in hand Monday, which Jacobs had looked over with potential changes, which was forwarded on to Claypool Marshal Ben Sanders.

Jones said the town did run into another insurance issue with the contract.

• Approved a townwide garage sale for June 10-11.

• Approved clean-up dates of June 24-25.

• Learned from Jacobs the three lawsuits the town filed against residents regarding parking violations have had judgements for the town in them. One of the residents has paid in full, another one has partially paid and Jacobs hasn’t had any payments from the third resident.

The Council approved Jacobs to try to collect on any outstanding payments if not paid in full in 30 or 31 days.

• Learned from Rowe about a program by the Indiana Bond Bank in order to repay bonds.

The idea behind the program is to pool together as many smaller towns as possible that have outstanding USDA bonds at a higher percentage. The refunding bond would be one big bond sold by the state through the Indiana Bond Bank. Each entity involved in that would achieve some savings in that refunding. The idea would be to pool these communities and do one big bond together. The refunding bonds would be backed by the state, Rowe said.

What the Indiana Bond Bank has proposed, is after they’ve taken into account all the costs associated with the bond reimbursement, the town could possibly save at least $310,000 for the remaining life of the bonds. Rowe said the town could pull out at any time before the bonds are sold.

The Council approved writing a letter saying the town was interested in the program. Rowe said Baker Tilly could have a contract for the program for the Council at their May 9 meeting.