Ordinances get makeover

HARLINGEN — For years, residents have struggled to find the city ordinances they needed.

The city’s Code of Ordinances even gave City Secretary Amanda Elizondo a headache.

This week, city commissioners took the first step to approve an updated Code of Ordinances.

Commissioners moved through the first reading of an ordinance that would adopt a recodified version of the city’s laws.

City law requires officials to update the Code of Ordinances every 10 to 15 years, Elizondo said yesterday.

But since 1996, she said, the city had not recodified its document, which contains local laws dating to the city’s incorporation in 1910.

In 2013, she requested commissioners work to recodify the code.

Recodification would better organize the document, Elizondo said.

“Citizens would say, ‘I can’t find a section in the code,’” Elizondo said. “Every time I wanted to use the code, I had a hard time finding what I was looking for.”

For the job, officials paid Florida-based Municipal Code Corp. $17,000 to help them recodify the document.

For 18 months, officials worked to update the city’s ordinances.

“It was quite extensive,” City Attorney Richard Bilbie said.

Since the Code of Ordinances’ last revision, Bilbie said, some state laws have changed, outdating some local ordinances.

So, officials removed sections of ordinances that no longer complied with state law.

“The overriding goal is to make sure our Code of Ordinances is correct and in compliance with state law,” Bilbie said.

Bilbie said a new index better organizes the proposed Code of Ordinances.

While the code’s current index is 37 pages, the proposed code features a 212-page index.

“The indexing is more thorough,” Bilbie said. “It’s much more detailed. The table of contents is more thorough.”

Like the current code, residents could go to the city’s website to access the updated Code of Ordinances.

On Jan. 20, commissioners are expected to approve the new code.

“It’s better organized,” Bilbie said. “We believe the new code is going to be much easier to use. It’s more accurate and reflects any changes in state law that are applicable.”