The city of McAlester is ready to collect some long green if city employees come in and cut high grass and weeds on private property.
Now, in addition to paying for the cost of the grass-cutting, property owners will face an additional charge.
During their last meeting on April 23, city councilors agreed to slap a $100 administrative fee to the total bill property owners will have to pay for any grass of weed-cutting done by the city.
That’s up from the previous administrative fee of $20 — which makes it a 400 percent increase.
“The current administrative fee for mowing/lot cleaning is $20 and has not been increased for over 30 years,” City Manager Pete Stasiak said in documents related to the issue before the vote was taken.
Stasiak indicated the city wasn’t in it for the money, but rather to encourage individuals to keep their grass and weeds cut.
“We’re trying to get out of the grass-cutting business,” Stasiak said.
The measure calls for the $100 administrative fee to be added to a city water bill or collected by other means if the property owner or person being charged is not a water customer of the city.
In addition to the administrative fee, the city council passed an amended ordinance stating it is unlawful for the property owner or the person otherwise in possession of the property to allow “trash or weeds to grow, stand or accumulate” upon the premises within the city limits “including abutting right-of-way” and added it’s the property owner’s responsibility to “remove or destroy any such trash or weeds.”
The change in the previous ordinance is making it the responsibility of the property owner or person in possession of the property to include “the abutting right-of-way” in cleaning or mowing the property.
Ward 6 Councilor Sam Mason said during the April 23 meeting that includes the land between the sidewalk and the street as well as ditches.
The city can move in when grass and weeds are higher than 12 inches, according to city documents.
“High weeds and grass can become a fire hazard as well as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and rodents. Consequently, grass and weeds higher than 12 inches are not in compliance with the city of McAlester’s ordinances,” the documents state.
The ordinance as passed by the council amends Chapter 46 of the McAlester Municipal Code by amending Article II, Nuisances, Section 46-30; Same Health Nuisances and Article III, Lot Cleaning, Section 46-53.
An item calling for a $150 administrative fee had originally been placed on the meeting agenda in March for consideration by the city council in March. However, the item had been pulled without a vote of the council at that time at the request of Stasiak, who had originally placed it on the agenda.
When the council considered the item again during its April 23 meeting, the amount of the administrative fee had been set at $100.
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com.
For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smartphone.