The first day of summer was a week ago, and Ogdensburg officials are already writing up dozens of weed ordinance violations.
The city has put 52 property owners on notice that grass, shrubs and weeds higher than the allowed 10 inches are on their grounds and must be cut down in seven to 10 days. Otherwise, they will be fined $100 and be required to pay for the $43-an-hour services of the Public Works Department to do the job for them.
So far this summer, 18 property owners have chosen to pay the fine. In 2012, DPW wrote up 100 property owners for violating the ordinance. Twenty-four of them elected to pay the fine.
Public Works Supervisor Gregg E. Harland isnt sure that the message to cut is getting through. Not even the $100 fine that was imposed five years ago has proven to be much of a deterrent.
It seems to me its going up, he said Thursday. And it takes us away from other work that we should be doing.
Public Works Director Kit W. Smith agrees with Mr. Harland that many of the fine-payers are absentee, out-of-town landlords and banks that own foreclosed properties to whom parting with $100 plus the cost of public works labor means nothing.
Those people seem to be most of the repeat offenders, Mr. Smith said.
It has been suggested that the city hire an outside contractor to do the cutting. But Code Enforcement Officer Gregg A. Mallette said that billing the property owner and the city would amount to time-consuming paperwork.
It would definitely free up Public Works to do their jobs, he said. But how much work are we saving?
Mr. Smith said that raising the fine might not be a bad idea. Whatever it takes, he said, to get his crews out of doing yard work.
Were not a lawn and garden department, he said.