NILES Council approves legislation concerning problem dwellings

The housing ordinances were drafted after residents voiced concerns.
NILES -- The passage of three emergency ordinances gives the city's housing code enforcement officer a little more power to handle problem dwellings.
Council unanimously passed the legislation Wednesday, authorizing Steve Yovich, the enforcement officer, to issue orders that immediate action be taken in cases where homes, apartments or other living units are found to be a threat to public health.
The legislation also allows the city, in cases where homeowners do not correct the problems, to take the necessary action -- either repair or condemn the property -- and levy the taxes against the homeowner's taxes.
Other areas addressed in the ordinances include allowing Yovich to condemn and board up vacant housings that have become a threat to the public, and to cite homeowners with properties overrun by grass, weeds, dead trees and the like.
The legislation was drafted after several residents attended recent council meetings, complaining about vacant properties that were left unsecured and that were becoming health hazards as a result of standing water inside from this summer's floods.
Sewer-rate increase
Also Wednesday, council approved a rate increase on sewer bills. The money generated from the increases -- $2 for residents, $6 for commercial businesses and $20 for industrial businesses -- will be used, in part, to fund repair and replacement projects on infrastructure throughout the city damaged from summer's floods.
Expected to generate more than $200,000 annually, the funds will be supplemented by grants, low-interest loans and other means to address 25 projects determined by the city's floodwaters task force.
Auditor Neil A. Buccino said the money collected from the rate increase will be placed into a special fund, and will only be collected as is deemed necessary by the repair schedule. That schedule will be determined once engineering plans are complete on all projects, but city officials estimate it could be as little as five years.

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