The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly has approved an ordinance allowing the borough to levy fines for code violations for the first time.
The ordinance includes a Uniform Table of Minor Offenses, or UMOT, which lists the borough’s offenses and fines. The list includes fines for animal control violations, improper trash disposal, abandoning junk vehicles and dumping snow in the borough right-of-way.
The assembly voted 4-2 to approve the ordinance. Julie Kavanaugh and Rebecca Skinner were the lone votes against the ordinance. Assembly Member Scott Arndt was absent.
During the public hearing, many members of the public who were present expressed opposition to prohibiting the disposal of snow into ditches, saying there was no other place to put the snow, especially on rural roads.
Others said they were in favor of the ordinance, citing ongoing unresolved bear and trash issues.
Nick Szabo, chair of the Solid Waste Advisory Board, said the board unanimously supporting the adoption of the ordinance.
“We need to change bear behavior, and in order to do this we need to change people’s behavior. That’s what we are hoping to do with this (ordinance). Often just the threat of a fine will correct people’s behavior,” Szabo said.
Community member Judi Kidder said she was in favor of UMOT. However, she questioned the need for an enforcement officer.
“I don’t think in the budget we can afford an enforcement officer,” Kidder said. “The issue is being able to instate fines.” She also requested the borough to have an appeals process so community members have recourse if they think they have been fined unjustly.
Assembly Member Duane Dvorak introduced an amendment, which the assembly approved, to implement the ordinance on July 1. He said the date provides staff enough time to prepare and to hire a code enforcement officer.
However, Borough Manager Michael Powers said some of the code enforcement procedures are already in place and could be ready for implementation in 30 days.
Following two amendments introduced by Kavanaugh, the ordinance prohibits dumping snow on any street, developed right-of-way or drainage structure in a manner that impedes drainage, line of sight, or pedestrian or motor vehicle traffic.
Proper waste disposal is outlined as securely closing and latching the bin or roll-off door or cover. The ordinance prohibits discarding any solid waste outside garbage containers.
According to UMOT, fines for disposing of waste improperly are $50 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense, $500 for the third offense and $1000 for any subsequent offense.
In addition, people who leave vehicles or debris on borough highways or streets, or improved rights-of way, will be fined. Exceptions to this rule are people who park their vehicle on a street for 24 hours or less. Fines for abandoning vehicles or junk on the streets range from $450 to $600.
The ordinance, defines junk vehicles as those that are not currently registered — except for vehicles exclusively used for competitive racing — are stripped, wrecked or inoperable due to structural inefficiencies to mechanical failure; have not been repaired because of mechanical difficulties or because the cost of repairs; or have broken glass, missing wheels or tires, or missing parts.
Kavanaugh introduced another amendment that the assembly approved, excluding unregistered farm vehicles among other types of vehicles from the definition of junk vehicle.
Violations related to cruelty to animals and control of animals would carry a mandatory court appearance in addition to fines, the amount of which varies depending on the code violation.
Assembly Member Andy Schroeder was one of the members who voted in favor of the ordinance.
“UMOT is not a solution looking for a problem. It's an attempt to address real problems, it's an attempt to address ineffective and unenforceable ordinances,” Schroeder said.
Dvorak was also in favor of the ordinance and reminded the public that the fines imposed by UMOT are not meant to increase the borough’s revenue.
“This isn't intended to raise funds for the borough. It's not a revenue center for us. It's to try to get people to comply with the codes,” Dvorak said.
With the passing of UMOT, assembly members and staff spoke about the borough’s need to hire an enforcement officer to carry out the ordinance. Dvorak also addressed the public's fear of being wrongly cited.
“If the person would disagree with that (citation), they would take it to court and the court would decide whether or not this was a proper implementation of the ordinance,” Dvorak said.
However, paying the salary of a code enforcement officer was a deal breaker for some of the borough residents and assembly members.
“What I've consistently heard is that if we approve UMOT we are going to need to add code enforcement staff. Existing staff doesn't have the ... bandwidth to carry out code enforcement,” Skinner said, adding that to solve some of the code enforcement issues, there are other “common sense” solutions brought up by the public in previous meetings.
Kavanaugh said during the meeting that she had introduced a series of amendments to make the ordinance more palatable for those who opposed UMOT. Even though the amendments passed, she said she did not think the ordinance would be effective.
“I really think ... the UMOT schedule being supported is the idea that it will fix our bear problem and our waste management problem. I don't agree with that,” Kavanaugh said. “I think we are going to look back on this in 12 months or two years, and we still have a bear problem and we are going to still have some waste management issues.”