City Council members can file complaints on behalf of citizens

Marietta residents are sometimes ambivalent about filing property maintenance complaints, especially when violations of the city’s maintenance code may involve a close neighbor’s property. But Marietta Health Department officials say complaints can also be filed by contacting a member of city council.

“Someone may call in about an issue, and we’ll ask them to file a signed written complaint. But many of those people don’t want neighbors to know they filed the complaint,” said Beth Tullius who investigates property complaints for the health department’s environmental health division.

“If they want to remain anonymous, we tell them to contact a city council representative who can file the complaint on their behalf,” she said.

Councilman Steve Thomas, D-3rd Ward, said he’s fielded several property maintenance complaints for constituents since taking office two years ago.

“Last year I may have been asked to only two all year, and so far this year I’ve filed six or seven complaints on everything from trash in the yard to junk cars,” he said. “There are a lot of alleys in my ward and some people will park junk vehicles there and a neighbor might complain.”

Thomas said he doesn’t mind filing property complaints for citizens.

“Many don’t want their neighbors to know they had a complaint filed,” he said. “So they’ll ask me to file. I just see it as part of a councilman’s job.”

Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, said he also often files property maintenance complaints for city residents.

“I don’t keep track, but I do file some complaints every year-some years more than others,” he said. “Generally it’s because someone is upset about an issue with a nearby property. But I always take a look at the property first, to be sure the complaint is valid. Sometimes neighbors will get into a dispute and file a complaint that’s not warranted.”

Vukovic, too, considers filing complaints on behalf of constituents part of a council member’s duties.

“If we don’t do that and no one else files a complaint, some property issues that are real public safety hazards might never be addressed,” he said.

Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, said when he’s asked to file a property complaint he tries to contact the property owner first.

“Most of the time that takes care of it,” he said. “One lady wanted to file a complaint about junk cars on a rental property. But I called the property’s landlord and it was taken care of. If people are shy about making a property maintenance complaint, they can call any councilman or the city safety-service director.”

Marietta Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, has filed property complaints for many city residents who did not want their names on the complaint form.

In 2012 Kalter filed 95 property maintenance complaints, and last year he filed 73 complaints, according to the city health department.