According to the mayor of St. Maries, the city needs a police department and code enforcement because city ordinances are not being enforced.
The mayor cited codes pertaining to speeding, firearms, animal control, abandoned vehicles and parking regulations.
“We feel ordinances are not being looked after. We see this as a way we can take care of our ordinance ourselves,” Mayor Carver said.
In reference to speeding, Mayor Carver cited recent data collected from traffic monitoring equipment on Main Avenue. According to the mayor, data shows that of 70,017 vehicles detected on Main Avenue, Jan. 6 – Jan. 23, 401 vehicles exceeded 35 mph in the 25 mph zone in front Heyburn Elementary, including 31 vehicles that clocked over 57 mph.
Data for other ordinances is more limited, but what is available shows a low number of violations. The total number of calls received by the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center shows that there were a total of three calls for St. Maries city ordinance violations Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020.
One of the three calls was a city crew employee who was instructed by the mayor to request that a vehicle be towed because it was parked near a city flower pot that could not be reached for watering. It is not clear from the dispatch record if the vehicle was parked illegally at the time.
The city ordinance count would be higher if animal calls were included in that total. Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, dispatch received 439 calls pertaining to animals. It is unknown how many of those calls occurred in St. Maries or if they required law enforcement. Animal calls are tracked on a county wide basis and pertain to any call involving an animal, such as roadkill or loose livestock, not just nuisance animals.
Additionally, the county has its own more restrictive ordinance regarding nuisance animals. The county nuisance animal code includes possible impoundment and fees as high as $1,000 plus court and impoundment fees. City penalties include fines of $50 to $600 and do not specify impoundment.
To what degree animal nuisance claims are enforced in the county is unknown. Complaints of loose or aggressive dogs within the city appear in the dispatch log on a near weekly basis.
Data reported by the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office to the Idaho State Police database only includes reports of animal cruelty of which there were zero in 2020.
As for firearms and abandoned vehicles, according to the county dispatch center, county wide there were 79 abandoned vehicle reports and 24 firearm reports.