The LaGrange Town Council met Monday evening to discuss moving forward with its intention to have the town’s police department handle code enforcement. Earlier this year, the town opted out of the county’s cod enforcement agreement, planning to utilize its police department to watch for various code violations, such as tall grass or junk cars, among others.
At Monday’s meeting, the board was told that the town has ordinances in the book that cover most of the violations the town wants to watch out for, but that it needs updating. “We have a sidewalk ordinance,” LaGrange Town Council President Mark Eagleson said. “But what we have wouldn’t work with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Town attorney Bill Eberhard added that the current town codes exist in various folders, but that “you have to know what you’re looking for to find it.”
Town Marshal Rich Snyder asked the council to look at what the town needs to focus on. “We have a bunch of ordinances, but what are we really going to focus on?” Snyder said.
Updated ordinances will also include updates to fines and court costs. Eberhard told the council that the fines would be such that they would cover the cost of having an officer issue the citation.
Eagleson added that the fines should be a stiff enough penalty that the problem should be corrected with an initial warning with the possibility of being cited and fined if it is not corrected.
Eberhard was instructed to have his office work with Snyder to go through the existing ordinances and return with some recommendations on updates and changes.
The council also discussed the possibility of having a town manager for LaGrange during Monday’s meeting. Eberhard told the council that the town had tried to have the clerk-treasurer also act as a town manager and that didn’t work. “I’m telling you, you should have a manager today,” Eberhard added.
It was questioned why the town should hire another employee instead of using the funds to pay current employees more. “The town could be further ahead and then we can pay employees more in the future,” council member Ray Hoover noted.
The council voted to move ahead with setting up a town manager position, starting with looking at the pay scale for managers in other towns as well as noting what duties the manager should handle beyond what is already set by state law.