Dubuque Dealing with Complaints of Snow Covered Sidewalks

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Letting snow sit on the sidewalk after a storm can be a safety hazardm but Dubuque city officials say it could cost people big money. Like many cities, Dubuque has a 48 hour snow removal ordinance. That means, the city requires property owners to clear snow from sidewalks within 48 hours after the end of a snowstorm. If the property owner doesn't clear the snow, the city will issue a warning. If it happens again, the home-owner could face a fine of up to $750.

Tom Kopp, an Engineer Technician for the City of Dubuque, said he's responded to 270 complaints so far this year. If someone complains about an unshoveled sidewalk, he comes by to check it out. He takes a photo, jots down some information, then sends the homeowner a warning.

"It's not an exact science, sometimes just a judgement call, " said Kopp.

If no one removes that snow, Kopp calls in a crew to do it and the homeowner is stuck with the bill.

"If they don't pay the bill, then it gets assessed against their property, and it goes on record at the courthouse. And it will be just like a property tax. You'll be paying it one way or another," he said.

This city's tough approach is a relief for people who spend a lot of time on foot.

"It's pretty annoying to have to walk through it, " Elaine Wasylko said.

"It's slick, especially the hills. You take one wrong step, and you're sliding halfway down the hill," Paquale Luz said.

City leaders hope the ordinance helps make winter a little less painful.

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