An ordinance establishing a minor offenses fee schedule has residents asking why many of the laws are even on the books, and why Haines Borough employees other than police officers should be authorized to enforce them.

According to manager David Sosa, an Alaska Supreme Court ruling that became effective in April 2013 mandated that municipalities have a list of minor offenses with an accompanying fine schedule. This ordinance would bring the borough into compliance with the ruling, Sosa said.

The 35-page ordinance contains about 250 minor offenses and accompanying fines. The list doesn’t represent new rules or violations but compiles all existing rules in one place, Sosa said.

After the ordinance’s introduction, residents called the number of regulations “inappropriate,” “disturbing” and “ridiculous.”

Regulations include “failure to install street numbers in compliance with code” ($100), “parental responsibility for curfew violation” ($250), “failure to remove ashtrays” ($200), “annoy, injure or endanger the public” ($300) and “reducing surrounding value of properties by maintaining (a) building in (a) state of disrepair” ($300).

Resident Stan Jones said the document is “in need of some common sense.”

“I think someone needs to go through and look at them and instead of having 34 pages of this verbiage they can eliminate a number of them,” Jones said.

Jones’ wife Kathy Pardee-Jones called the list of regulations “out of control.” “We need laws and we need regulations, but they need to fine tune this.”

Former Mayor Fred Shields said he understands the laws are already on the books, but the court ruling to create a minor offenses list represents an opportunity to clean up those unnecessary laws – many of which aren’t being enforced anyway.

“(The laws are) inappropriate for our community,” Shields said. “We want less government, not more.”

The ordinance also would allow borough employees besides police officers to write citations for violations. After training, the harbormaster would be allowed to write citations for harbor violations, the assessor and planning technician could ticket for land use violations, and full-time fire department personnel could cite for fire code violations.

The ordinance also allows the borough manager to give other employees the power to write citations “as deemed necessary.”

Shields balked at the move to authorize employees besides police officers to cite for minor offenses. “Deputizing borough officials so they can fine us? That’s not right,” he said.

Resident and Planning Commissioner Brenda Josephson agreed, stating that law enforcement authority needs to remain with trained professionals. “If the borough would like employees other than peace officers to enforce code then they should require the borough employees to be professionally trained and credentialed in law enforcement,” Josephson said.

The excessive amount of regulations the ordinance has brought to light are in direct conflict with borough charter and the borough’s mission statement, Josephson contended. The charter states the people of the Haines Borough have “the right to enjoyment of private property, chosen lifestyles, traditions, employment and recreational activities without unnecessarily restrictive or arbitrary laws or regulations.”

“To me, this is Orwellian,” she said.

Reading the ordinance, Josephson said she was reminded of a recent statement by manager Sosa. At an April 23 planning commission meeting, during discussion of a controversial signage law, Sosa said, “The best way to get rid of a lousy law is to enforce it thoroughly.”

Instead of aggressively enforcing laws on the books and having residents freak out and demand a code change, Josephson said she would rather see the borough take a more proactive approach and comb through the list before the ordinance is adopted.

“It’s not about assigning a dollar value to code that is on the books. It is a matter of taking a common sense approach to code and saying what makes sense,” she said.

Josephson said she is also concerned about the borough administration’s focus on the law-abiding element of the population, rather than the true criminal element.

“It’s on the average person,” she said. “We’re giving them the tools to truly go after the law-abiding people in this town. They’re driving around town looking for signage violations.”

The ordinance also clarifies that each day a violation occurs constitutes a separate violation and therefore a separate fine. “As an example, a car parked illegally in a space can be fined each day it remains illegally parked in that location,” Sosa said.

The issue of fining per day or per violation arose during a spring controversy between the borough and Skyline Estates property owner Paul Nelson. The borough fined Nelson $300 per day for failing to remove glass from his lot by a previously set deadline, but Nelson argued code didn’t allow for per-day fines.

Nelson and the borough are currently involved in a legal case concerning the fines.

The ordinance will be discussed at the Government Affairs and Services Committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 20. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the committee meeting to ask questions and express their concerns.

The Public Safety Commission has also been directed to look at the ordinance, though a meeting has not been scheduled.

The ordinance’s first public hearing at the assembly level is scheduled for Aug. 25.