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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Burnsville drops vacant-property registry

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Anonymous Pioneer Press said...

Budget cuts mean there's no one to enforce new rule
By Jessica Fleming
Updated: 08/04/2009 11:50:12 PM CDT

The same battered economy that prompted Burnsville to pass an ordinance requiring registration of vacant properties has forced the city to rescind the rule.

The ordinance, similar to those passed by several cities in the metro area, was meant to track the owners of foreclosed-upon houses in case of code violations.

The city council rescinded the ordinance, which was originally passed in December, at its Monday meeting.

Another code inspector was supposed to be hired to enforce the rule and help maintain a database, but when the city trimmed $3.5 million from its budget earlier this year, money for the position was eliminated.

"It's just a question of whether the city has the money to be able to enforce it," city spokesman Jim Skelly said. "It didn't make sense to have an ordinance on the books that we weren't able to enforce."

The suburbs of Richfield and Brooklyn Center have similar ordinances. Minneapolis and St. Paul also require registration of vacant properties. Nationwide, many cities are doing the same as the number of empty properties rises.

There have been 245 sheriff's sales on foreclosed homes in Burnsville so far this year. That's out of 1,032 in Dakota County. Numbers for 2008 were not immediately available, but in 2007, there were 220 foreclosures in the city.

Skelly said the city was mainly concerned with blighted properties and people who left without turning the water off. Pipes have burst around the metro area during the winter, causing major damage to homes.

City Manager Craig Ebeling said staff members will deal with code violations the same way they have in the past — case by case.

"We're going to do the best we can with the folks we have and keep an eye on it the best we can," Ebeling said.

West St. Paul recently discussed adding a similar ordinance to its books, but Jim Hartshorn, the city's director of community development, said officials already have trouble keeping up with code-enforcement calls.

"We're getting more and more bogged down with programs and have less staff to run them," Hartshorn said.

West St. Paul and Burnsville each employ one full-time code-enforcement worker.

Hartshorn said his employee responded to 1,200 code-enforcement calls last year. Code-enforcement call numbers in Burnsville were not available.

Jessica Fleming can be reached at 651-228-5435.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey guys you have a new location for your rental dump business now!

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

St.Paul just want's there hands in others pockets.
Money money and more more money Chris Coleman and the city council need to raise their pay.

7:25 AM  

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