SHAMOKIN - The city's code officer says emphasis must be placed on enforcing an existing snow plow ordinance this winter.

"If you drop your plow in the city limits, you need to have a permit," said Rick Bozza, code enforcement officer, during a city council workshop session Wednesday at City Hall.

Bozza said existing ordinance must be enforced, including by the police department, and he asked for the support of city council, which he received.

Anyone plowing snow for anyone else is required to have a permit, whether they're doing it as a legitimate business, doing it to make money on the side or doing it at no cost.

The snow plow permit costs $50, easily recovered by the owner who plows a handful of jobs, officials said. An ordinance violation, such as for plowing without a permit or for illegally dumping snow, can bring a fine from $100 to $300. Dumping snow into a body of water like the Shamokin Creek can bring a fine of $1,000.

Throughout the city during last week's snowstorm, Bozza said independent contractors and citizens alike plowed snow into large piles on city streets, which Mayor William D. Milbrand said restricts the flow of traffic.

The mayor asked for the understanding by city residents on why compliance is necessary and not simply a case of nitpicking.

"The private snow plow people are pushing piles and they're really causing a hazard for fire equipment, for ambulances, for police vehicles and for plain old citizens to get around corners," Milbrand said. "The city can't afford to go out with a loader and pick up the piles. This is one of the reasons for the permits, and they've got to have restrictions on where they can plow and how they can plow."

Bozza specifically spoke of the Bunker Hill section of Shamokin, saying large amounts of snow were pushed downhill and onto Sunbury Street.

The ordinance also restricts people from shoveling snow into the streets more than six hours after a storm ends, Bozza said. That carries a fine, too, of $100 to $300.

"After we plow the streets and it refreezes from someone throwing it out from these big piles, guess what? ... We got to get a truck out. We've got to pay a guy for three hours (per the union contract). You all know the situation we're in. We can't do it," said Councilman Charlie Verano, director of public improvements.

Some violators were cited last year, said Police Chief Edward Griffiths. However, Verano said the ordinance has been largely neglected for varied reasons and it must be enforced for safety and economic reasons.