A $1,000 fine per building code violation.
That's the maximum penalty that city codes enforcement officers plan to ask district judges to impose starting Monday after they deem properties blighted where owners have ignored repeated warnings and notices to get the structures up to city building code standards.
The penalties are aimed at property owners who have ignored warnings from city codes enforcement officers, not to those who have been cited and are attempting to work to bring properties into compliance.
"We've given a letter of notice earlier this year to these specific property owners and repeatedly tried to work with those who have blighted properties," said city Codes Administrator Joe Gerardi at Tuesday's blighted properties review committee meeting at City Hall.
The $1,000 fine is for each offense, he said, meaning a building owner who has not fixed multiple code violations may be hit with a fine of several thousand dollars. Seven violations could be a fine of $7,000, he said.
That's failure to comply with repair of structural deficiencies, trash in the yard, or electrical and safety violations, to name a few, according to Gerardi, citing examples of the problems codes has encountered.
To date, 34 properties are on the blighted list. Twenty-two of those properties' owners have either bought a $25 building permit and began to fix the properties, or have given notice to codes officials of their intention to sell the building or have it demolished, he said.
Four years ago, the list was as high as 160, he said.
Codes also is cracking down on the length of time for repairs to be made once the building permit has been purchased.
"We had people buy a permit and wait two years and buy another," he said as reasons for the shortened deadline.
Gerardi said he considered this fall to be enough time to see progress.
"I'll give them until the end of October and after that cite them with failure to comply with the order to fix the building code violations," he said.
Christopher Keiser, a member of the city planning commission, suggested the city ordinance be changed in terms of the number of people serving on the blighted property review committee.
Keiser said he would like to see a broader base of representation from around the city.
The idea was supported by City Councilman N. Clifford "Skip" Smith, but no votes were taken because of a lack of a quorum.