ROY -- Residents are complaining about the appearance of their residential neighborhoods and are pleading with the city to do something about it.
City officials contend they are working on it, but are re-thinking how the city's code enforcement program is working.
Currently, tickets are issued on a complaint basis. If people call and complain that a resident is out of compliance with weeds, parking or other issues, the code enforcement officer investigates, issues a warning and then, if necessary, follows up with a citation. If things continue to escalate, the issue could end up in court.
But some residents, as well as some council members, feel the process may be taking too long.
"I would like to see the council step up and do something now," resident Lil Ackley said.
Councilman Michael Stokes said things are getting done, but there is a process.
City Manager Chris Davis said that of the 11,000 residential homes in the city, about 1,000 citations were issued last year. He also said the city employs a full-time code compliance officer, and when that officer goes out after a complaint, she looks around for other trouble spots.
Stokes said the city is always thinking of ways to solve the problem, but it is a big and difficult one. Roy has been hit particularly hard by the bad economy, with many homes being in foreclosure or owned by banks or real estate firms that don't take care of the properties.
Mayor Joe Ritchie said in the case of bank-owned properties, the bank or financial institution often will just pay the big ticket rather than go to the effort to hire someone to take care of the property.
Councilman Brad Hilton said that should change and the city will look into how to work with the financial institutions on that issue.
Ackley said she hates to complain to the neighbors who are out of compliance because she doesn't want to pit neighbor against neighbor.
Stokes suggested a kinder, gentler approach.
"Maybe the neighbors could band together and offer help," Stokes said. "Sometimes people just need a friendly reminder."
He would like to see more neighbors helping neighbors in the community.
"It may be that we need more compliance officers ...but if we do that, it means we have to raise taxes," Stokes said.
Ackley said she and other residents are frustrated that the first solution is always to raise taxes.
Stokes said that is really a last resort, but to take care of the problem sometimes that's the type of thing that needs to be done; however, he and the council aren't opposed to thinking outside the box.
"The process just takes too long," Councilman Willard Cragun said. "One person can't do the job by themselves."
He suggested raising fees for posting signs in the city to help offset some of the costs of hiring more help.
Everyone agreed the issue needs to be examined closely, with viable options that can be put into place now. The council will hold a work session in the next month to discuss the issue in detail.
Ackley said the city was the place to live in the 1970s, and she would like to see that be the case again.
"It seems like everyone moved South," she said, "and Roy went south at the same time."