Butte-Silver Bow has more volunteers in line to shovel sidewalks so far than people wanting their help under a revamped snow-removal ordinance that now carries possible fines.
That could change as more snow falls and awareness grows about the law’s new provisions, but regardless, there may never come a time when people are actually fined for not shoveling their walks.
Officials actually hope that’s the case.
“It’s like the summer restrictions on watering,” Public Works Director Dave Schultz said Tuesday. “We have never issued a fine or turned someone’s water off for sprinkling out of turn. Once we advise them of that they tend to comply and we think this will be the same case here.”
Butte-Silver Bow has long required that sidewalks be shoveled after snowfalls, but unlike many Montana cities, the ordinance here did not carry possible fines.
Commissioners narrowly agreed in June to stiffen the law.
Under the changes, people who fail to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall can receive a warning. Fines for second offenses can be up to $50, up to $100 for a third and a maximum $150 for fourth and subsequent violations. A city judge will decide the amounts.
Schultz and Chief Executive Matt Vincent wanted to put teeth into the law, but Vincent also insisted on “compassionate” provisions as well.
People aged 65 or older or those with a documented disability will be exempt from clearing walks if their income is 150 percent of the federal poverty level or less. For an individual, that means anyone making $17,505 or less. It is $35,775 for a family of four.
For those who qualify, the county will be responsible for finding volunteers to clear their walks. It will be up to homeowners, business owners or tenants, however, to inform the county if their walks are still not cleared.
Click on “Snow Removal Assistance Program” under the Services tab, or use the link below for more information on how to apply.