City to get tough on code violations

City to get tough on code violations
By Ken Childers
ONL Editor
The City of Okemah is cracking down on code violations by hitting offenders in the pocketbook.
In Monday evening’s regular meeting of the Okemah City Council, a resolution setting a fee schedule for certain violations of the city code was adopted by a unanimous vote of the council.
Under the resolution, failure to keep your lawn mowed could result in a $100 fine for the first offense, $150 for the second and $200 for the third offense. A warning will be issued before any fines are assessed.
Code Enforcement Officer Keith Green explained that the way the code is currently written, any time a property is flagged or “posted” for a violation, the city has to allow the offender to have a hearing within 10 days of posting.
“This will speed the process up. We won’t have to go out there and post the property then have a hearing,” Green told the council. “If we do a hearing and the city spends money to fix the problem, then we have to go to the county and place a lien on the property, and that extends it out even further.”
Green added that the fine amounts are based on what cities comparable in size to Okemah charge.
The fee schedule is as follows (listed by first offense/second offense/third offense)
Failure to mow – $100/ $150/ $200
Failure to maintain property – $100/ $200/ $300
Rubbish/garbage – $100/ $150/ $250
Motor vehicles – $200/ $400/ $500
Defacement of property – $150/ $250/ $350
Swimming pools and enclosures – $200/ $300/ $400
Failure to pull a permit – $200/ $300/ $400
Food preparation – $200/ $300/ $400
Illegal roof overlay – $300/ $400/ $500
Infestation (residential) – $100/ $200/ $300
Infestation (commercial) – $200/ $300/ $400
Premises identification – $100/ $200/ $300
Prohibited occupancy/dangerous equipment – $300/ $400/ $500
Transfer of ownership – $300/ $400/ $500
Unauthorized tampering – $200/ $300/ $400
Unlawful placard removal – $300/ $400/ $500
Unsafe conditions – $100/ $200/ $300
The fine for beginning work before a permit has been issued is equivalent to the permit cost times two for the first offense, three times the cost of the permit for the second offense and four times for the third offense. For any offense not specifically listed, the fine is $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second and $300 for the third offense.
In other action, the council approved Green to represent the city on the Deep Fork Community Action Board. Deep Fork offers assistance to the communities in such areas as social services including food, rent and utilities and weatherization. The post was previously held by City Clerk Relena Haddox.
The council also approved an agreement with Ed Rosso and Jim Morgan for the lease of hangar space at the Okemah Municipal Airport. Rosso and Morgan will build the hangar, a 60×60 structure.
In addition, the council approved an agreement with Crawford and Associates for fiscal year 2020-2021 for financial services. The firm writes financial statements and helps the city prepare for its annual audit.
A proposal to enter into an agreement with Finley and Cook, the firm that has performed the city’s audit for several years, was tabled. The firm proposed a fee of $22,500 for the audit, and councilors Ron Gott and Kelly West said that fee seemed too high and asked City Manager Dustin Danker to “shop around.”
Acting as the Okemah Economic Development Authority, council members approved final payment in the amount of $16,754.30 to Keith Shaw Construction Management Services for the construction of loading docks at the Quantum Building and accepted the project as complete.

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