LEESBURG – Owners of barking dogs in town might soon have to pay a fine if they can’t control their canines.

Residents of East Prairie Street brought a complaint about neighboring dogs before the town council Monday night.

“The dog barking is constant,” said a Prairie Street resident, who wished to remain anonymous. “It starts as early as 4:30 in the morning and it will go all day long.”

He said he has spoken to the dog owners several times in four years without success. He said they already had three dogs and recently got a puppy. The dogs are chained outside.

Initially council believed there was nothing they could do.

“I sympathize with your plight, but unfortunately, if the animals are confined...” began Councilman Tom Moore.

But Council President Christina Archer looked up the town ordinance as the men were speaking.

She said the ordinance included “habitual barking” as an unlawful action, and that the street commissioner is  “empowered to issue a citation.”

“But we’ve got to give everybody a warning first,” said Councilman Doug Jones.

In looking through town bylaws, the council realized that no specific fine had been set, and that various fines and fees hadn’t been updated in some cases in decades, as fines as low as $1 were mentioned.

Councilman Tom Moore said they needed to go through the town’s fine schedule, updating fines and making them consistent. They plan to have the new fine schedule ready for discussion at the council’s March meeting.

In the meantime, street commissioner Craig Charlton will send a warning letter to the dog owners, letting them know they’re in violation of the town’s ordinance.

Everyone agreed that the barking was not the only issue.

“I’m especially concerned, in brutally cold weather, 20 below, that the animals were outside,” Archer said.

In other business, Derek Tenney of Tenney &?Sons gave an update on problems with the town’s sewer system. He said the bypass valve system of the main lift station had to be dug up because of an overflow problem.

During the work, they discovered that one conduit line was completely empty, and he said they’ll probably eliminate that.

A hole was found in one metal pipe, and the pipe was so flimsy that a pocket knife went right through it.

They tore it all out and replaced it, he said, and finished the bypass valve system.

Council discussed the continuing problem of things found in the pumping pit that aren’t supposed to be there. The town has sent a form letter to residents, but apparently some people are disregarding it.

“We’re going to have to put a stop to this,” said Moore. “If they’re going to ignore those letters, we’ll have no recourse but to go after them.”

In other business:

• The council approved the transfer of $140,000 from the Economic Development Income Tax Fund to the general fund for the project of bringing the town hall into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

• Jones said they have the contract for the Community Crossings Grant. He said they will get the contract to the Indiana Department of Transportation and they should send a purchase order. The grant will pay for 75 percent of repairs to local roads.

• Charlton said large tree limbs will be chipped on Fridays. He said leaves should be bagged and placed in the containers provided by the town. He reminded residents that it is their responsibility to keep sidewalks clear of snow.

• Residents were reminded that parking is prohibited on any street in town from 3 to 5 a.m., and that burning is never permitted.

The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. March 11 in the Plain Township Fire Department.