Ordinance would punish people who ignore code violations - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Proposed ordinance would punish people who ignore code violations

An ordinance is moving through the Shelby County Commission to impose fines on people who fail to pay for code violations. An ordinance is moving through the Shelby County Commission to impose fines on people who fail to pay for code violations.

(WMC-TV) - An ordinance is moving through the Shelby County Commission to impose fines on people who fail to pay for code violations.

It's a cutting-edge ordinance drawn up by Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter.

"Let's clean up the nuisance," Potter said Tuesday. "Let's clean up our city.  This is a good city.  This is home."

Potter made an unprecedented trip to Tuesday's Shelby County Commission meeting to drum up support for the ordinance he drew up to impose tougher penalties on people who fail to pay their code violations.

"I'm not looking to penalize people as much as I am looking for compliance," he said.

If you fail to pay the initial fine, you'll get word from law enforcement.

"This individual will be served with a summons by the Sheriff's Office saying you have failed to pay fines and costs," Potter said.

And if you fail to show up in court to answer the summons, you could get fined up to $1,000.

In fact, records show one extreme case in Potter's court forced an out-of-town man who owns property in Memphis to pay more than $100,000 in fines for ignoring the court.

Potter said he came up with the idea after seeing this daunting data: Over the last three years, code violators have failed to pay Shelby County $3.2 million in fines without recourse.     

"I was shocked and I was determined that needed to be dealt with," Potter said.
Potter hopes his determination will pay off for Memphis and Shelby County, especially in this budget crisis.

Potter's Environmental Court is considered a national role model, so it's no surprise he's pushing for this ordinance. It has one more reading before full approval.

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