The Sulphur City Council amended the ordinance dealing with truck traffic in residential areas to stiffen penalties for non-compliance at their Monday night meeting.
The amendment, sponsored by council member Mandy Thomas, will increase the range of fines from a minimum of $100 and maximum of $500 to a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $1,000.
Thomas cited safety as her biggest concern, noting that residential areas have narrow roads and larger trucks have blind spots and are unable to stop as quickly as smaller vehicles, placing children at risk.
The amended ordinance includes an exception for large trucks making deliveries.
The council also amended the ordinance setting forth utility deposits to do away with the $150 deposit required for residential customers. Instead, customers will be charged a non-refundable $75 dollar account activation fee. Monies currently held in deposit by the city will be applied to future utility bills.
Renters will pay a $75 activation fee and a $125 deposit to be refunded after five years service with no more than three late payments or after they discontinue the service. Commercial customer deposits will remain with the city until the business moves or closes, at which time it will be refunded. Going forward, commercial customers will pay the $75 activation fee.
In a rule to show cause hearing, the council voted to condemn the structure at 505 W. Burton St., giving property owners 30 days to bring the house into compliance. Chief Inspection Officer Keith Berry said that will require new electrical, plumbing, and flooring in certain spots, and the installation of fire alarms. The homeowner is also nearly $400 behind in water fees. Sulphur Police Chief Lewis Coats told the council that between March of 2018 and March of this year, there have been 50 arrests made at the residence as the result of 34 calls. He said officers routinely find people “passed out in the yard,” most of them under the effects of synthetic marijuana.
Council member Mike Koonce asked if officers were ever in danger when responding to calls at the address. Coats said there is always the possibility of violence when “people aren’t in their right minds.”
In other news:
• The council granted a request from Mayor Mike Danahay to extend utility payment hours from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. to allow customers more time on their due dates to make payments.
• The council voted to increase the monthly stipend for low-income household utility assistance from $7.50 — the amount approved when the program began in the 1980s — to $15.
• The council appointed Robin Baudoin to the Land Use Commission to fill the unexpired term of Bill McMullen.
• The council heard an introduction to an ordinance authorizing the mayor to execute a Solid Waste Contract. The administration is considering three proposals for the contract and a special meeting will be called at a later date to inform the public of their decision.
The next meeting of the Sulphur City Council will begin at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 8, in Council Chambers at 500 N. Huntington St. in Sulphur.