(Missoula Current) While the City of Missoula requires property owners to shovel their sidewalks after a snowfall, the ordinance doesn't require residents to make false complaints against neighbors.

The city on Tuesday said erroneous complaints over one's failure to shoveling snow has become a bit flaky – a problem, in fact.

“We encourage neighbors to talk to each other and help each other through the winter,” said Ginny Merriam, the city's communications director. “But we're having problems with people purposefully making false reports.”

City law requires residents to clear sidewalks of snow and ice by 9 a.m. the morning after a snowfall. In doing so, residents are supposed to shovel the snow onto their own property – not into bike lanes or the street – and not use deicing agents.

Merriam said most residents comply with the ordinance and when they can't, neighbors often chip in. But instead of helping, some are complaining to the city of one's failure to shovel, even falsely.

It has become a problem, Merriam said, and it's costing someone their time.

“This results in City staff spending time to send a violation letter to property owners who have not violated the sidewalk snow shoveling ordinance,” she said. “Eventually, it could lead to an unwarranted assessment on a property owner’s tax bill.”

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