May 24, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
The Portsmouth City Health Department has hired a new code enforcement officer. That officer’s only job will be to write citations for those not following city codes.
The new code enforcement officer is Josh Skaggs, who is a graduate of Shawnee State University.
“Josh is our code enforcement officer who will be working one day a week and his only job is going to be going out and writing citations. He’ll write summons into court and see those through the court process,” said Chris Smith, Health Commissioner, city of Portsmouth. “Both judges (Portsmouth Municipal Court Judges Steven Mowery and Judge Russell Kegley) are on board with the program and pushed for the position.”
When asked what codes Skaggs will be enforcing, Smith said, “He has the authority to enforce any city codes, including solid waste, garbage, we will also be helping with high grass. Currently the service department orders a property owner to cut their grass and if they don’t the city goes out and cuts it for them. So the city is wasting a lot of money cutting people’s grass.”
Smith said with Skaggs in place, he can write citations and take those people to court.
“While it may sound petty taking people to court over cutting their grass, it has a big impact on the city service department,” Smith said.
He said Skaggs will be working with the police department in cases where people have junk vehicles in their yards. He will also assist the engineering department with people who have not painted their houses have missing windows, gutters or have items that are blighting the neighborhoods.
“We don’t want the public to worry that we’re going to be out picking on people. We’re not going to write people a ticket for having one can in your yard, but if you have a bunch of garbage in your yard, you will receive a ticket and without a warning,” Smith said. “You will receive a citation into court, you will appear before a judge with a $50 or a $100 fine and a $111 court costs. This can cost anywhere between $150 to $200 dollars a ticket.”
Smith said this position has been needed within the city for a while now.
“It’s always been for a lack of personnel. Everybody in the city in all of the departments have had to do multiple jobs. When you have to do multiple jobs you don’t want to write a citation because you know you will end up in court,” Smith said. “It’s been hard to get employees to write tickets. With this new position his only job is to write tickets and go to court.”
Smith said it’s important to note there is no quota system for writing tickets associated with the job, but he hopes to make the position full-time in the future.
“The hope is he will be able to make enough of an impact and pay for his time with fines. If we can show this is a benefit to the city, our hope is that City Council will make the position full-time,” Smith said.
The Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste Management District in cooperation with Portsmouth Municipal Court and others are set to host a Portsmouth Citywide Cleanup Day Saturday, June 1.
“This (cleanup) is the citizens chance to cleanup. So, cleanup now because we will be issuing citations,” Smith said.
He said Skaggs will begin issuing citations on Scioto Trail and U.S. 52 as soon as possible.
“For people living in those areas, get your grass cut, get the garbage out of your yard and start painting your houses and repairing your gutters,” Smith said.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.