| The Independent
MASSILLON A proposal to raise a fee for landlords to register rental properties will be the sole topic of a special City Council committee meeting tonight.
Members of the Health, Welfare and Building Committee are set to meet via videoconference at 6 p.m. to discuss changes to the city’s non-owner occupied residential building registration fee.
If the proposal is approved by council, the registration fee would rise to $80 from the current $50. The fee is now a one-time charge, but under the proposal, the $80 payment would be required each year.
City Councilman Ed Lewis, R-at large, said Friday he wants to see a more “concrete plan” on what new revenue would be used for before seriously considering the proposition.
“My point is, if you’re going to introduce an increase to a fee structure, you need to have a specific purpose,” said Lewis.
According to the mayor’s administration, additional revenue would help bolster neighborhood cleanup efforts, and specifically ramp up operations in the city’s building code enforcement office. Code officers could dedicate more time and resources to better track non-registered structures, and reduce the number of landlords skirting the system.
Ramping up to an $80 collection fee could raise about $300,000, some of which could assist code enforcement operations each year. Funds may be utilized to pay for dumpsters to place outside rundown rental houses or apartments. That potential benefit aims to assist owners with cleaning up shoddy rental houses and blighted properties.
Still, Lewis, who chairs council’s Finance Committee, mentioned that he’d like to see more specifics.
“I doubt wee need $300,000 worth of dumpsters each year,” he said.
David Maley, the city’s economic development director, said changes to the presented new rate structure may be introduced as soon as today.
One Massillon councilman said his main concern among residential rental properties is the number of units not on the city’s radar.
There are an estimated 5,500 to 5,600 residential rental properties citywide. Of the total, about 3,700 units are registered with the city, leaving 1,800 to 1,900 unregistered.
“I’ve not heard a plan to get these 1,800 or so compliant,” said Councilman Ted Herncane, D-at large. “I mean, we’re looking at increasing fees annually on people already doing what they’re supposed to do.”
If the legislation is passed as it stands, Herncane suggested tenants will brunt the cost.
“You’re ultimately hammering the tenant here,” he said.
If approved by City Council, collection on any new fee structure would not start until January 2022.
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