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Volunteer panel could be answer to codes

FALLS CITY — The city of Falls City is looking into forming a volunteer panel to judge code enforcement cases.

Falls City hasn’t had a true code enforcement system since 2014, when the former officer left the city to take another position. The city ‘s municipal court has been inactive since then.

“I’ve talked to our attorney. I’ve talked to the sheriff,” said Mayor Terry Ungricht. “In order to be able to do it, we all agree it would be best to have an official court.”

Using a volunteer judge or panel of judges has worked in the city of Detroit and, Ungricht said, with amendments to the city’s code, Falls City could start a similar program.

“Under this method we would hire a contract code enforcer to investigate the violations, negotiate with the property owner to abate the problem, issue citations for the properties who do not comply, and build a case to present to the panel for a ruling,” Ungricht wrote in staff memo to the Falls City City Council.

The city’s attorney said the necessary code changes would cost about $1,500.

“I’m trying to figure out a way that we can enforce our ordinances and afford it,” Ungricht said.

The council unanimously voted in favor of giving the setup a try.

“This has been an ongoing issue with our community,” said Councilor Jenn Drill. “We really need to do something.”

Members of the council said they would prefer having a three-member volunteer panel hear cases instead of just one volunteer.

To see other business the council addressed, see

In other business, the council:

• Learned the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department awarded the city more money than expected with the Michael Harding Park acquisition grant. Ungricht said he was expecting $75,000, but the city received $85,000.

The city still has to pay the remaining balance on the loan from the city’s revolving loan fund, a cost of about $2,800 per year until the $60,000 left is paid off. The loan was made to the Falls City Alliance, which up to this point owned the property on the north side of the falls. The property now expands the park to both sides of the falls.

• Changed the time of its council meetings to 7 p.m.

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