Ordinance Could Be Used in Replacing Lead Water Laterals
City Treasurer Spencer Coggs has successfully sought a change to the Milwaukee Code of Ordinances that allows homeowners’ lead abatement costs to be treated as a special assessment instead of a special charge. The ordinance could eventually be used as an affordable way to replace lead water laterals. Under the new ordinance, Milwaukee property owners can pay the costs of lead abatement over a period of six years instead of one year, making the monthly installments due less expensive. “This is a win-win for everyone, both homeowners and the City,” said Coggs.
Treasurer Coggs has a unique interest in lead poisoning prevention. He began his career with the City of Milwaukee as a health inspector in lead poisoning with the Health Department and has maintained his passion for protecting our most vulnerable, young children, from lead. Lead hazards can result in severe developmental issues and physical health problems. The City of Milwaukee is exploring the cost of replacing lead-ladened water laterals without endangering the health of entire households. Coggs stated, “I am quite pleased that the Milwaukee Common Council took up my proposal and passed this important ordinance change.”
Coggs noted that the origin of the ordinance involved an elderly couple who were advised to abate their home of lead for the safety of their lead poisoned grandchild who stayed there at times. The couple were mistaken when they thought that the cost of their lead abatement would be treated like the City’s Tree Removal Ordinance. With the Tree Removal Ordinance, the costs are paid back to the city over a six year period. This didn’t apply to lead abatement which would have to be paid back in one year.
When the Treasurer’s Office was informed of the discrepancy, a draft of the new ordinance was produced by the City’s Legislative Reference Bureau at the Treasurer’s request. Common Council President Michael Murphy and Finance Chairman Nik Kovac were asked to sponsor the legislation. Treasurer Coggs and President Murphy, along with Health Commissioner Bevan Baker, testified in favor of passing the ordinance change at the Judiciary and Legislation Committee, chaired by Alderman Ashanti Hamilton.
The Lead Abatement Ordinance passed the full Common Council unanimously. “Making lead abatement more affordable goes a long way in assisting Milwaukee property owners in addressing a very serious health issue, especially for our youngsters,” stated Coggs
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