The Associated Press
George Munford shovels snow off the front steps of his home Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Aaron Taylor may be mowing his grass now, but he'll be shoveling his sidewalk soon enough.
"It doesn't take much to throw down some salt, shovel it off," says Taylor.
But year after year, storm after storm, the city finds people who don't clear the snow.
"The amount of foreclosures we have, the amount of absentee landlords, it's a big problem," says Public Service Director Chad Gamble.
Gamble says the public service department already issues fines for unshoveled sidewalks. But a new ordinance on the table calls for even stricter rules.
"We want to be a safe city, a walkable, bikeable city no matter what time of year," Gamble says.
Under the new ordinance, the city will issue warnings if snow or ice is not shoveled within 24 hours of a storm. Gamble says those notices will be delivered by mail. The warnings will be deemed received after 48 hours of delivery. At that time, the city will remove the snow or ice at the owner's expense.
"For the first 20 minutes, with an administrative fee, it's about $115," Gamble says. "And then it's an additional $48 for every subsequent 20 minute interval."
Gamble says that fee will be added to property taxes. But before becoming law, city council still needs to vote on the measure. Councilmember Brian Jeffries thinks it'll pass.
"I think it's a fair and reasonable cost to take care of a really significant problem," Jeffries says.
"Especially on our block we have a lot of children, and a bus stop just up the street, so I think it's good," Taylor says.
Residents admit the fines are a bit excessive but necessary for safety sake.
Councilman Jeffries says the city will hold a public hearing on Sept. 20. A vote on the new snow ordinance will likely happen a week later.