Sep 232009
 
Authors: Matt Minich

Fort Collins will issue fewer citations for neighborhood nuisance violations if the city’s proposed 2010-2011 fiscal year budget is accepted as it is written.

Codes seeing reduced enforcement include those against unkempt or garbage-filled lawns, dilapidated fences and other neighborhood nuisance violations, Fort Collins Neighborhood Services Manager Beth Sowder said.

These violations do not fall under the same category as the city’s 3-unrelated housing ordinance, which prohibits three unrelated people from living under the same roof, or party-related noise violations.

The proposed budget, which is currently under review by Fort Collins City Council, does not allow for funding to one of the department’s four code compliance officers.

A seasonal code enforcement position that works exclusively during the summer months would also be cut from the budget.

Both of these positions were removed this summer, resulting in a significant decrease in the number of neighborhood nuisance cases handled by the department, Code Compliance Supervisor Polly Lauridsen said.

Neighborhood Services saw a 22 percent reduction in cases processed from August 2008 to present. This number aligns with budget proposal estimates that say the department would handle 10 to 20 percent fewer cases annually without the enforcement positions.

The cuts are not due to a decrease in neighborhood nuisance complaints but come as part of much broader cuts to the city’s overall budget, Sowder said.

“The need (for enforcement) is still there, it’s just that the money’s not there.”

Cuts to code enforcement were in part due to a desire by the team — which is made up of city council representatives and managed by the city manager — to avoid major cuts to the police or fire departments, which make up almost half of the city’s total budget, City Manager Darin Atteberry said.

“I find it regrettable that (code enforcement) is a service we have to reduce,” he said.

The cut to code enforcement is only one of several in the budget proposal, which cuts a total of $7.4 million from the city’s fiscal year 2010 budget of $109.1 million.

To minimize the effects of the enforcement reductions, the three remaining code enforcers will focus patrols in areas that typically see the highest number of violations, Sowder said.

According to a map illustrating nuisance violations in 2008, the areas of the greatest concern are located west of College Avenue between Mulberry and Drake Streets.

Those violating neighborhood nuisance codes are most often renters, Sowder said. In 2008, 70 percent of neighborhood nuisance violations were by renters.

Enforcement of 3-unrelated, commonly known as U+2, will not be reduced and the “Party Patrol” program, which employs overtime police officers to deal specifically with noise problems caused by parties, will remain in effect.

City Council will approve the final draft of the city’s fiscal year 2010 budget on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

Senior Reporter Matt Minich can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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