Changes made to the Newburg City Council agenda frustrated some council members Tuesday night.
Agendas for Newburg council meetings usually include items listed as “old business” and “new business” but do not name any specific issues. Usually, Mayor James Poucher asks the council if they have any issues to discuss under those items.
Tuesday’s agenda did not include “old business” and “new business,” and council member Alyson Garvey asked why the items were not included, noting that there is always old and new business to discuss.
After Poucher said he recently attending a training session, he felt the council’s agenda should include specific topics.
Earlier in the meeting after the council agreed to amend an ordinance regarding fines for owners of loose dogs, Garvey asked, “What about all these ones (ordinances) that we’re basically amending?” Garvey showed a stack of ordinances that the council previously recommended amending, such as city codes about maintaining streets/sidewalks, taking care of abandoned vehicles and cleaning up dog waste.
Poucher said those ordinances can be listed on the next meeting’s agenda.
When McNew asked why the ordinances could not be discussed at that moment, Poucher replied, “Because it’s not on the agenda.”
After the council adjourned from its open session, Garvey walked out of city hall.
Council member Bill Stines said to expect a long agenda next meeting since he will request items be added to the agenda.
The ordinance that the council unanimously approved regarding fines for owners of loose dogs in town will raise the maximum fine for violations.
Police Chief Chris Finch suggested the council raise the fines but did not say what the increase should be because his department would be the enforcing agency.
Previous violators could be fined up to $35, but council member Randy Brinkley Sr. suggested raising it to a maximum of $100 and McNew agreed. The actual amount of the fines are normally determined by a judge.
“There has been an influx of dogs at large tickets we’ve issued,” Finch said, noting that many violators are chronic offenders. One owner has been cited three or four times, he said.
Finch said increasing the fines would be an incentive to keep residents’ dogs on leashes or chained up in their yards.
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Newburg resident Jill Hollowell suggested increasing the fines as an offender makes more violations, but Finch said the police department has been giving plenty of warnings to the offenders.
In other business, the council approved purchasing new patches for Newburg police uniforms. The patches have an image of a wolf, the Newburg School District’s mascot.
Finch also told the council that the police department is sending out courtesy letters to residents who are violating yard nuisance ordinances and said the department plans to “step up” enforcement.
He said he wants the violators to take care of the small nuisances now. On May 30-31, residents can place large bulk trash items where they normally place their trash to be picked up. Regular trash pickup will still take place May 29.
Doreen Moore, volunteer tax collector for Newburg, gave a report showing how much property and real estate taxes had been collected. Moore noted that the City of Newburg has a different reporting cycle than the county.
For the 2012 tax year, the estimated amount collected from December 2012 through April 8, 2013, totals $11,016.86 for real estate and personal property taxes.
The estimated totals that are delinquent for the 2012 tax season is $1,914.96 for real estate and $898.63 for personal property.
Assessed amounts for real estate in the City of Newburg totals $10,266.52 and assessed amounts for personal property in the city totals $3,563.88.
Moore noted amounts collected do not mean that all of the 2012 taxes were collected. The amounts reflect total taxes collected including new and some delinquent taxes during the time period listed above. There are still some past due tax bills that need to be collected, she noted.
Tuesday’s meeting also was the last one for Moore, who was appointed as a Ward 1 council member last summer, and the first one for McNew, who replaced Moore on the council.
McNew and Brinkley both took the oath of office administered by City Clerk Phyllis Harris. Brinkley ran unopposed in last week’s general municipal election for a Ward 2 seat and McNew defeated challenger Christopher Davis in the election for a Ward 1 seat. Council members serve two-year terms.