To the frustration of Ann Arborites who fixed their sidewalks under orders from the city, many of their neighbors’ walks remain tilted and cracked. By law, if homeowners don’t make repairs, the city can hire contractors to do the work for them–and add the cost to their tax bill if they don’t pay. But even as the city stepped up inspections in recent years, enforcement was neglected: with both staff and money scarce, the last time the city made any repairs was 2005.

City Council belatedly cracked down on the scofflaws in July, voting to spend up to $350,000 to contract out repairs. But that’s just a start: field operations supervisor Kirk Pennington estimates it’s only enough to correct the violations outstanding from the 2006 inspections and maybe some from 2007. Ultimately those funds can be reclaimed from the property owners and recycled to pay for additional work, but that may take awhile: another council vote would be required to attach any unpaid bills to the owners’ property taxes.