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Citizens challenge code enforcement

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Mark Varsel
The Ellis County Press
PALMER - Many Palmer residents recently received an anonymous mailing advising them of their right to seek refunds of fines and assessments based on citations issued by the Code Enforcement Officer of the City of Palmer.

The mailing directed citizens to call the Chief of Police and request the refunds because the 'Code Enforcement Officer was not legal due to city code.'

The challenge against the city code was based on a legal assertion that the oOfficer was a city employee as opposed to a contract employee as specified in the ordinance. The ordinance states, 'The code enforcement officer shall not be a city employee, but shall serve under a contractual agreement with the city.'

When legal counsel for the city, Larry Jackson, was asked for an opinion on this matter he responded, 'There are no provisions in city code for the issuance of refunds. This ordinance (referring to the ordinance referenced in the mailing) would have been superseded by subsequent ordinances which would be reflected once the ordinances are codified.'

He said the ordinance was drafted at a time when the city could not afford to hire a full-time code enforcement officer.

The process of codifying ordinances reduces them to a systematic listing as reflected in the city code.

Police Chief Scott Lynch said, 'City council was directly responsible for the hiring of the last two code enforcement officers.'

That action, according to Jackson, would supersede the existing ordinance as referenced in the city code. When asked specifically if the claims made in the distribution were invalid, Jackson replied, 'They are without merit.'

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