Watertown Lawmakers 'Talking Trash'

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(Note: See our update to this story.)

Normally, when a Watertown homeowner appeals the Department of Public Works surcharge, the City Codes Enforcement Office will recommend to the city manager whether or not to accept the appeal. 

Now, things are changing.

For the first time, city council is getting involved in the debate.

A month ago, the grass was calf-high outside 1203 State Street.

There was garbage in the driveway.

The property owner didn't clean it up.

The Department of Public Works did the work and charged the owner more than $200.

A $150 surcharge was included.

"That actually includes the cost of my time, the staff's time," said Sean McWayne, codes enforcement.

According to an email, the owner, who was in Arizona at the time, claims she had no idea the property was a mess until it was too late.

Her property manager failed to maintain the grounds.

She and two other Watertown homeowners who received services from the DPW are appealing their surcharges.

"None of these are problem properties where they have had repeat offenses. So these cases I'm recommending that an abate be awarded," said Sharon Addison, city manager.

The recommendation will go to the city council, which will discuss the matter Tuesday night.

Addison decided since the council handles the city's money, members should decide on the surcharge.

"I do not want to set a precedent. I don't want these requests coming in from property owners because 99 percent of us do what we're supposed to do," said Councilwoman Teresa Macaluso.

"They are coming with recommendations from the city manager and I would anticipate for the most part the council will take the manager's recommendation," said Councilwoman Roxanne Burns.

City council has final say on whether or not to grant the owners a second chance.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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