[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Saratoga Springs 6-4-1984 as Ch. 84A of the 1970 Code; amended in its entirety 9-18-2012 by L.L. No. 3-2012. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The failure of property owners to address violations of the City Code, the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Codes, and other City, state and federal laws and regulations in a timely and effective manner is an immediate and serious threat to the public health, safety and welfare. For a municipality, the expenditure of public funds and resources to correct violations is a major impediment to effective enforcement. In instances where a property owner is difficult or impossible to locate, or is unresponsive to communications from City officials, the recovery of the costs to the public of correcting the violation is often difficult and time-consuming. This chapter provides procedures by which City Code Enforcement Officers may, upon due process and notice, recover the costs of summary abatement of code violations.
The provisions of this chapter shall supplement local laws, codes or regulations existing in the City of Saratoga Springs and the other statutes and regulations of municipal authorities having jurisdiction applicable thereto. Where a provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with any provision of a local law, ordinance, code or regulation, the provision or requirement which is more restrictive or which establishes the higher standard shall prevail.
Every Code Enforcement Officer in the City of Saratoga Springs is hereby authorized and empowered to pay for the summary correction of any violation that is within his or her lawful authority to correct, to pay for such correction with City funds, and to enter the cost of the correction as a lien and privilege on the property, subject to the approval of the City Council of the City of Saratoga Springs as herein provided.
The Code Enforcement Officer shall apply in writing to the City Council member in charge of the Code Enforcement Officer's department for authorization to proceed with recovery of costs. Along with the application, the Code Enforcement Officer shall submit a report showing his or her efforts to contact the owner of the property on which the violation exists, the efforts made to correct the violation, and efforts made to obtain payment for the costs of correction from the owner.
Upon review of the Code Enforcement Officer's report, the City Council member may approve recovery of costs upon a finding that further efforts by the Code Enforcement Officer to obtain payment from the owner are unlikely to succeed, and/or will likely result in an unreasonable and disproportionate expenditure of time and resources. The City Council member shall then submit the matter to the City Council for its final approval to recover costs.
Upon receiving City Council approval to recover costs, the Code Enforcement Officer shall issue a notice of recovery of costs to the owner of record. Ownership of record may be determined by a search of reasonably available public information. Such notice shall be served either personally upon the owner or by posting it conspicuously upon the affected premises. If a notice is posted upon the premises, a copy thereof shall be mailed to the owner of record by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice shall state the owner's name, the address of the property, and the violation or violations thereon. It shall state, in boldface type as large or larger than the type used elsewhere in the notice, that recovery of costs has been approved, the amount of the costs, and that the costs shall thereafter constitute a lien on the property.
When the Code Enforcement Officer has served the notice of recovery of costs, the actual cost thereof, plus the accrued legal rate of interest per annum from the date of the completion of the work, shall be charged to such owner by the City, and such charge shall become immediately due and payable by said owner.
Where the full amount due the City is not paid by such owner within 30 days after the service of the notice of recovery of costs, then and in that case the Code Enforcement Officer shall cause to be filed in the office of the City Clerk a sworn statement showing the cost and expense incurred for the work, the date the work was completed and the location of the property by section, lot and block on which said work was done and the name of the owner of record. The filing of such sworn statement shall constitute a lien and privilege on the property and shall remain in full force and effect for the amount due in principal and interest, plus the cost of court fees and expenses, if any, for collection, until final payment has been made. Said costs and expenses shall be collected in the manner provided by law for the collection of taxes by the City, and further, shall be subject to a delinquent penalty at the legal rate of interest in the event that the same is not paid in full on or before the date the tax bill upon which such charge appears becomes delinquent. Sworn statements filed in accordance with the provisions hereof shall be prima facie evidence that all legal formalities have been complied with and that the work has been properly and successfully done and shall be full notice to every person concerned that the amount of the statement, plus interest, constitutes a charge against the property designated and described in the statement and that the same is due and collectible as provided by law.
Payments collected under this chapter shall be returned to the funds of the department that paid to correct the violation.