Salem council looks to hike landlord fees

SALEM – A fee increase proposed for the annual housing occupancy license landlords must secure per unit had its first reading before Salem City Council Tuesday, with a public meeting on the topic set for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11.

The Rules & Ordinances Committee will host the public meeting in council chambers at city hall. The committee voted last week to recommend an increase to several fees associated with the housing occupancy license, including increasing the license itself from $15 per unit to $30 per unit.

Also proposed was an increase from $30 to $60 for nonpayment of the fee, an increase from $50 to $100 for the penalty for failing to allow an inspection and an increase from $100 to $200 for each subsequent violation.

The committee held off on increases to the appeals fee and the fee for boarding houses, pending some clarification on questions they had.

The committee previously discussed increasing the occupancy license fee in September 2012, but put it on the backburner when landlords spoke out against the increase, claiming the city was going to put all the costs for the housing department on them and their tenants. The previous proposal had been to increase the annual housing occupancy license fee from $15 to $40 for each dwelling unit up to 25 units in a structure and to $30 for each additional unit over the 25 units per structure.

In other business, council approved the 2014 city budget listing $5,297,735 for the general fund and $22.7 million for other funds. Other funds cover the water and wastewater departments, parks department, health department, police and fire pensions, income tax fund, debts and street maintenance.

The Finance Committee had recommended passage after going over the details of the document last week and during a previous meeting.

Council also held first reading on a change to an ordinance dealing with a requirement for a signed diagram by a surveyor, engineer or architect registered in Ohio for an exterior building project, saying the requirement only takes effect for projects exceeding $10,000 for permanent, non-moveable structures greater than 120 square feet. The previous dollar figure was $5,000 and didn’t specify permanent, non-moveable structures or the size of the structures.

Council authorized the utilities superintendent to secure bids for the purchase of supplies for next year, such as fire hydrants, iron pipe, water valves, chemicals and other items used in the day-to-day operation of the department.

Mayor John Berlin announced that Royal Schiller had stepped down from the city Planning Commission, so he appointed Robert Merry to fill the unexpired term which ends in 2016.

Councilman Jeff Cushman reminded residents as they’re doing their holiday shopping to shop Salem first and patronize local merchants, a sentiment echoed by Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey.

Councilman Rick Drummond reminded people to shovel their sidewalks when there’s snow, to ease the travel of people who walk.

The next council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 17.