Toledo's water meter readers, who visit every home in the city four times a year, soon may be asked to keep an eye out for housing code violations for the city's Department of Neighborhoods.
Embracing an idea offered at his quarterly directors' meeting yesterday, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner told the Department of Public Utilities to require its field personnel to begin passing along code violations they observe.
Water meter readers visit 92,000 homes in Toledo, as well as locations outside of Toledo where city water is distributed.
The idea was offered yesterday by City Council candidate D. Michael Collins, who attended the morning-long quarterly directors' meeting, held at the McMaster Center in the Main Toledo Library, which was open to the public.
Mr. Collins, an independent running in District 2 for the seat being vacated by Councilman Rob Ludeman, said the practice could help the understaffed Department of Neighborhoods and save the city money. He said he didn't envision meter readers writing tickets or discussing code violations with property owners.
"All you need to do is put a code in a machine. The last thing I would want is a meter reader in conflict with a citizen over a housing code violation," Mr. Collins said.
Public Utilities Director Bob Williams initially objected, saying meter readers' work could be made more difficult if they are viewed as "intruders." He said meter readers already are expected to report unsafe situations involving children or senior citizens.
He was quickly overruled by the mayor, who said, "that is a great suggestion. Do it. All they have to do is write an address down. I don't even want any debate about it. Just do it."
Mr. Finkbeiner said meter readers could identify "very obvious decay," and "run-down, ramshackle properties."