Property owners in South Williamsport who have high grass or piles of trash accumulated at their homes may face stiffer penalties from authorities.
Borough council approved a proposal Monday night to give magisterial district judges the ability to issue 90-day jail sentences and fines up to $1,000 for property maintenance offenders. Before the change, district judges were limited to issue either monetary fines or incarceration - not both.
Michael D. Miller, borough manager, said codes violations most commonly seen are excessively tall grass and trash on properties.
Miller said the new measure is to target "repeat offenders" and to be "tougher on property owners with a stiffer penalty."
"There are some bad spots that are readily evident," in the borough, he said.
Council also approved an amendment to its police contract that's designed to keep qualified officers. The amendment states that if an officer leaves the police department within his or her probationary period, they would have to reimburse the borough for the cost of their equipment.
"Back when I started $100 covered most everything," said Robert Hetner, police chief.
Now, he said, cost for equipment such as a protective vest, Taser and handgun costs about $2,000.
"I think it's a win for the borough, financially," Miller said. "I also think it's a win for the police department."
Miller said the change will be an incentive for new police recruits to stay longer in the borough.
The change will be effective with the next officer hired, which Hetner said could happen within the next 30 days.
In other business, council approved a $61,595 bid from HRI Inc. to pave Clinton Street.
"It's identified as one of the worst streets in the borough," Miller said.
Part of the paving project can be paid for with liquid fuel reimbursement, which council applied for Monday. Just over $10,000 is expected from the funding, which is from taxes on gasoline.
Council also approved a $4,800 bid from R&J Ertel mechanical contractors to replace an air conditioning and heating unit in council chambers.
Councilman Richard D. Harris Jr. noted that all bids for the project came from borough businesses.
Matt Peleschak, contracted engineer from Larson Design Group, told council the sewer project is just under 25 percent complete.
"The project is going along very well. We've had very few hiccups with it," Miller said.