Members of the Orange City Council want to clean up the town and are willing to spend more money to do it.
District 1 Councilor Pat Pullen during a budget workshop on Tuesday asked about adding another law enforcement officer to work in code enforcement with John D. Taylor. He also wants the city to demolishing the old convenience store at 1519 37th Street.
In addition, the council is looking at buying a third grappling truck to pick up trash like furniture and mattresses left on the side of streets or dumped on vacant lots.
City Manager Dr. Shawn Oubre said the city attorney is researching how the city can make landlords pay for cleaning up a household of furniture and trash dumped along the streets when a tenant is evicted.
Oubre referred to that kind of clean-up call as a “hot shot.” Each hot shot costs the city $300 to $500 to send employees and a grapple truck to pick up and dispose of a mess.
One of those messes was recently on 16th Street, one of the main business corridors and entryways into the city.
“I hate driving around and seeing couches,” Mayor Larry Spears Jr. said.
“We need to make the property owners pay for it,” At-Large Councilor Paul Burch said.
Oubre said the attorney is researching whether the city can refuse to turn on water service to a property where the city had to make a hot shot. One of the problems would be that a tenant pays for the water service and not the property owner. Would the city be able to prevent a tenant who did not owe the city money from getting water?
The city owns two grapple trucks to pick up large trash like tree limbs and furniture. The trucks are supposed to make regular monthly pickups to every house. Even without the disruption because of Hurricane Harvey, the grapple trucks get behind in the regular scedules to do the hot shots.
The most common reason for the large messes is when a landlord evicts a tenant. The landlord cleans out the belongings inside and dumps them outside for the city to handle.
One rent house on Tenth Street in the Old Historic District has had so much furniture and trash outside that the city erected a “No Dumping” sign on a lot next door. This week, weeds on the lot were taller than three-feet high.
District 4 Councilor Annette Pernell said the city needs to be clean. “Our city has to reflect us,” she said.
Pullen suggested getting another code enforcement officer. A couple of years ago, police officer John D. Taylor was assigned to code enforcement to get property owners to mow and clean. Pullen said the city needs to add another officer for the job.
Oubre said the position would cost between $85,000 to $100,000 a year for salary and benefits, plus aobut $6,000 a year for a vehicle lease for the officer.
City Finance Director Cheryl Zeto has said each penny of the tax rate in the current budget year raises $107,300 income.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-