After discussing it last week, the Hyattsville City Council tonight will likely be voting on two measures which would make the city's snow removal ordinance more flexible and which would create a snow removal assistance fund to help seniors clear their walkways when wintry weather blankets the city.
Currently, Hyattsville city code requires property owners and residents to clear their sidewalks in the public right-of-way within 24 hours after snow or sleet has stopped falling.
The revised snow removal ordinance wouldn't change that except to give the city's head code enforcement officer the discretion to extend the snow removal requirement time limit based on the severity of the snowstorm.
"It's designed for unusual snow events," explained Mayor Marc Tartaro during last week's meeting.
The second measure before the council tonight would create a $12,000 grant fund to establish and administer a snow removal assistance fund for low-income elderly over the upcoming winter months. The measure calls for the program to be administered by a non-profit organization which would itself provide for snow removal services at an affordable price. Area non-profit organizations interested in administering in the program will be asked to submit a request for proposal outlining their plan.
The measure authorizes the city administrator to spend an additional $10,000 in grant funding this winter on the program if the city has more than four snow events.
The program would be funded with money currently earmarked for salaries budgeted for vacant city staff positions.
That didn't sit right with Councilor Tim Hunt (Ward 3), who said that the city should not be footing the bill for snow removal services.
"I like everything in this but the city funding," said Hunt during last week's meeting. "I am hoping that we can use our non-profits to reach out to reputable organizations to provide services at a reasonable price that the resident would pay for and keep the city out of it."
But others, like Councilor Shani Warner (Ward 2), said that a snow assistance fund could be really helpful for many of the city's poorer elderly residents.
"I think that there are a few programs that the city pays a small amount for to get started, or maybe on an annual basis, that have effects way out of proportion to the money we spend to make people's lives better," said Warner during last week's meeting. "I think this could be one of those programs."
Tartaro urged the city council to take action on the snow removal assistance fund soon.
"It'll either snow this winter or it won't snow this winter," said Tartaro during last week's meeting. "But it'll be really good to have a program in place whether it snows or not."
The measures will be taken up by the Hyattsville City Council tonight at 8 p.m. in the Hyattsville Municipal Building on Gallatin Street.