WICHITA, Kansas – The city is assessing thousands of dollars in bills to homeowners for sidewalk repairs.
It’s City Ordinance 49-684.
City council members approved thousands of dollars in repair to dozens of homes and businesses across the city this week.
“Public safety is a huge issue,” says Wichita City Council Member James Clendenin. “I had a resident come to me about a year ago, and she fell while she was walking her dog because one of the pieces of sidewalk was lifted.”
City council members passed through the assessments with no controversy, in part, because they say the sidewalks have to stay in good shape.
While it’s an established city ordinance, some are wondering if it’s fair.
“It seems a little backwards to me,” says Wichita homeowner Roger Raymond. “This was the city’s tree, and it did the damage. It really shouldn’t have been our responsibility to pay for it.”
Raymond points to a spot where an older tree, owned by the city, uprooted the sidewalk.
Raymond also points out, it’s a city tree right next to the street that appears to have done the damage.
Still, Raymond will be getting a bill for a few hundred dollars.
City leaders say the tax for Raymond, and dozens of others like him, can be added to his house taxes as a special assessment.
“You do have the option of paying it all right off the top,” says Clendenin. “But we understand that can be quite an expense, so it can be stretched over five years on the special assessment.”
So, how does the city determine when a sidewalk will be repaired at the expense of the homeowner?
The ordinance allows for neighbors to call in and complain about sidewalks. It also allows for city workers to report a “bad” sidewalk that needs replacing or repair.
“This is nothing new,” says Clendenin. “This ordinance has been on the books for some time.”
Homeowners can also hire a city-approved contractor to do the work, and pay for it themselves.
“But, yes, it has to be done,” says Clendenin. “If the city takes a look at it, and the sidewalk is a clear danger or hazard, then it has to be done.”
City Ordinance 49-684