Members of the York City Council decided Tuesday to spend some more time on the finer points of a new code-enforcement strategy before making it law.

The Neighborhood Improvement Ordinance is designed to tackle the city's trash and property-maintenance problems.

The new system would give authorized enforcement officers the ability to see a violation, issue a $25 ticket and hopefully get the violation resolved without the involvement of the court system.

However, some council members disagree on the amount of proposed fines.

The amounts: As the proposed ordinance is currently written, officers would issue $25 tickets for first and second offenses. After that, the cost of a violation starts to increase.

For example, a third offense within 12 months would result in a $150 ticket. A fourth offense earns a $300 fine.

Council President Carol Hill-Evans said she'd prefer to double the fine to $50 for a second offense.

"You're not likely to forget that," she said. "You're going to be more conscientious."

All of the violations included in the Neighborhood Improvement Ordinance are already illegal. Examples of the violations that would be subject to the new ticketing system are letting grass and weeds grow taller than 10 inches, failing to remove snow from sidewalks, allowing litter to accumulate and storing a junk vehicle.

The new ordinance would circumvent the need for summary citations, which often carry $100 minimum fines and sometimes require appellate hearings at district magistrate offices.


Instead, the city's "hearing officer" would have the authority to deny, uphold or modify the violation ticket.

Warnings, perhaps: Councilman Michael Helfrich said he's concerned about the financial impact on people ticketed for "little things that can sneak up on you" — like forgetting to bring the trash cans in or letting the grass grow beyond 10 inches during a vacation.

"It's not that I expect that the enforcement is going to be radical," Helfrich said. "But, at the same time, a more reasonable penalty gets the job done without potential extreme harm to our low-income citizens that may have made mistakes. You want to curb the behavior without causing people to get evicted."

Helfrich said he's considering a proposal to implement a warning system for first-time offenders.

Alternatively, Helfrich said he's more comfortable with stiffer penalties if the scale is tied to individual violations.

"If you get caught four times in a year letting your grass get too high, that's a $300 penalty. I'm OK with that," he said.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 19.