Soon, notices from Pawnee Rock’s ordnance officers will have some teeth, said Mayor Linda Mccowan. That’s because the city council approved the reinstatement of a Municipal Court. The western Barton County town has been without one for over 10 years, and it has been an uphill battle to get absentee owners and landlords to keep up their properties ever since.
“With the assistance of City Attorney Ron Smith, much thought, planning and work has gone into this decision,” Mccowan said. “As a city, the council is focusing on several ordinances pertaining to unsafe structures, unkempt structures and unmaintained lots or property. This is a small step to start cleaning up the appearance of our community.”
Judge Dale Snyder, Lacrosse, will provide judicial service over Pawnee Rock. Snyder currently presides over Lacrosse and Otis.
Pawnee Rock opted to eliminate its municipal court in 2003, Mccowan said. Now, the city is dotted with blighted structures that detract from the homes of the rest of the responsible and conscientious residents. Now there will be a way for neighbors of these properties to be heard. Complaints can be officially lodged at the city offices, and the council will contact the offending parties with a request to clean up their properties.
“We actually hope no one ever has to be taken to court,” Mccowan said. “We’re hoping that when people realize they will now be held accountable, they’ll step up.”
For those who won’t, Snyder will come once a month to conduct court in the council chambers.
Residential properties aren’t the only problem in Pawnee Rock. Corporations that operate out of the town make cleanup a low priority too, leaving high weeds, both dead and alive, and piles of brush and trash where they detract from the view and become havens for rodents and snakes, Mccowan said.
“We have more children living here than in years past, and these hazards pose a danger to kids and everyone else.”
Another step in the right direction Pawnee Rock’s city council recently made was to contract with Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball to handle the duties once performed by the treasurer. Each time the position turned over, procedures changed.
“It is the consensus of the council to maintain consistency, transparency, and longevity in the city’s financial management,” Mccowan said. “Our town may be small, but we must take small, precise steps to achieve a lasting community.”
Not only has the move reduced headaches in the clerk’s office, it has also proven to be a cost effective move for the city. Previously, the city paid ABBB for auditing in addition to the salary for the treasurer. Now, having the firm take care of the entire job is saving the city money.
“It’s totally a win-win situation.” Mccowan said.