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Tuesday - May 15, 2018 1:30 am

Appeals rejected, homeowners stuck with bills for wintertime sidewalk snow clearing

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As is typically the case, all of the appeals to the city of La Crosse to rescind charges for uncleared snowy sidewalks for the winter have been rejected.

Richard Thill lives on Badger Street. He’s one of those appealing charges levied for the city contractor to clear a walk that wasn't quite up to snuff. Thill was billed $175 by the city to clear his 50-foot walk.

“I have someone that does remove it,” Thill said. “It’s usually in the evening. One of my daughters or sometimes my nephew.

“The snow gets packed and it just doesn’t get scraped up early enough for them.”

Because of light winter snows, the only time the city's contractor was tackling walks that hadn't been cleared of snow and ice was a three-day period in February.

It was a relatively small number — 78 — that were cleared during that time. A typical year could see 200 or more targeted for clearing.

Property owner Mike Aliesch had his appeal denied by the board as well and expressed frustration that the city could charge people like him for walks left uncleared while walks at city properties were snow covered.

At the meeting, city council member Gary Padesky echoed the frustration with the apparent hypocrisy.

"I understand the ordinance, I agree with it,” Padesky said. “But if we aren’t going to keep our sidewalks clean … I have a hard time enforcing stuff that we’re not going to follow also.”

City sidewalk engineer Doug Kerns argued that while, "There’s a subjective portion to my job when it comes to this," he believes in the ordinance regulating snow and ice covered walks and its intent to prevent falls.

"I think we have cleaned up the city quite a bit," Kerns told the board.

For walks not cleared adequately, property owners are fined $2.50 per foot, plus a $50 administrative fee. Typically, those properties tagged by the city's contractor are rentals. Appeals were heard and denied Monday by the city's Board of Public Works.

Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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