OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the Common Council voted 3-4 to increase the rental inspection fees.
During discussion at last week’s committee meeting it was noted that the city isn’t covering what it costs to perform the inspections.
It was suggested the fees be upped to $50. However, at Monday’s council meeting the resolution was to increase the fee to $75 per unit, per three years.
Council President Ron Kaplewicz noted that “it has become very obvious that the current $30 rate per unit doesn’t cover the cost. This resolution increases the rate to $75 per unit and it also does some other things.”
There are a number of rental properties in the city that are in need of improvement, both inside and outside, he added.
The fee would include the application costs, initial inspection of the rental unit and a one-time re-inspection if necessary. However, if the violations persist after the initial re-inspection, a $50 fee will be assessed for each additional inspection thereafter.
“The resolution includes a higher fee for those units we have to inspect for a third and fourth time, Kaplewicz said.
Any rental unit failing to comply after four inspections, including the initial inspection, shall be denied a rental permit and may reapply after one year from the date of the original rental permit application.
If a cancellation of a scheduled inspection isn’t received within 24 hours prior to the inspection, a $50 fee will be assessed, which must be paid prior to scheduling of another inspection.
These fees would have taken effect on May 1.
“This is just a short-term measure,” Kaplewicz said. “Right now, we are obligated to inspect properties. We are woefully behind in our obligation.”
Councilor Mike Myers suggested letting the landlords deal with their tenants.
“Let them call their landlord if they want the place inspected,” he said.
“Right now, like it or not, there are inspections that have to be done,” Councilor Fran Enwright pointed out. “It is costing the city more to do these inspections than what we collect. I can’t see us subsidizing these inspections right now. This is a short-term fix.”
He said he feels inspections “should be more based on a complaint based or as needed.”
“Nobody knows their business better than (the landlords). If that’s the case, let’s partner with them,” Council Vice President Eric VanBuren said. “I’m fine with that.”
In the meantime, the city had to move forward with inspections as the matter continues to be debated, he added.
Raising the fee is being responsible to the taxpayers, Kaplewicz said.
“I really think that it’s a great hypocrisy if we can’t at least cover the cost for the taxpayers that are (paying) for the benefit of the largest collective business in Oswego. We have to be fair to all taxpayers in the city,” he said.
Voting against the fee hike were councilors Shawn Walker, Bill Barlow, Mike Myers and Mike Todd.
Casting a yes vote were councilors VanBuren, Kaplewicz and Fran Enwright.