CAMDEN — Camden Village Council members discussed fines for maintenance code violators and approved a 2020 police budget at their first monthly meeting Dec. 5.
Chief Matt Spurlock presented an updated 2020 budget for the village police department. The budget included an increase in salary to $55,000 for Spurlock himself, as well as wage increases to $19 an hour for full-time officers and $15.66 for resource officers. These are up from amounts of $51,875, $16.80 an hour and $14 an hour in the department’s 2019 budget. Council voted unanimously to approve the budget as presented.
Councilman Kelly Doran suggested doubling, or even tripling, fines for residents who habitually violate the village’s maintenance code. The biggest fine violators currently face is $150, according to Doran, an amount he said was insufficient to discourage many from violating.
“We have a lot of flagrant violators, and that amount just seems to bounce right off them,” Doran said. “I can’t even count the number of things some of them have in their yard. It’s almost a comedy sometimes.”
Some residents litter their yard, and even alleys adjoining their property, with tires, trash cans, and discarded coolers, according to council members.
According to village administrator Rusty Wilson, the current procedure in such cases involves sending a letter to the property owner in question, which typically gives them between two and four weeks to correct the issues cited. If the issue is not corrected, Camden police will issue a citation.
“Ninety percent of people, I send the letter and they fix it,” Wilson said.
Councilman Ernest Crabtree said he was okay with raising fines as long as the increased penalties are used to target habitual violators, rather than just any resident who might happen to earn a violation.
Council ultimately voted unanimously to amend the current maintenance code. According to fiscal officer Becky Wilson, an attorney retained by the village will need to present a revised version of the code at their next monthly meeting, which will then need to be read and voted on during three subsequent meetings before it is passed into law.
Camden Village Council meets the first and third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Camden Town Hall.