Landlords object to plan for fees

By Jeanne Starmack

CAMPBELL — Mayor George Krinos’ plan to fund a homeownership program by charging registration fees on rental units came under fire from landlords Wednesday.

Krinos’ attempt to hire a new finance director was also met with a less-than-enthusiastic reception by council, which did not make a motion on his recommendation to hire Edwin Torres, a Campbell resident who works as a financial adviser for Wachovia Securities.

Krinos’ attempt to hire a grants writer fared a little better. Council advanced a resolution allowing him to research the position to a second reading. The resolution does not create the position, however. Krinos has said a grants writer is critical to pulling the city out of its dire financial straits. It is facing a $465,000 deficit by the end of next year.

Landlords came to Wednesday’s council meeting to protest the way Krinos plans to fund the home-ownership program. He said he wants to charge a registration fee of $1,000 per rental unit per year, with 20 percent of those funds going toward loans for down payments for homes. The loan amounts vary for married and single people and according to income. The loans would be deferred for 10 years, and would then convert to grants that wouldn’t require repayment. If the homeowner moves away before the 10 years are up, the loan would have to be repaid.

But landlords told council and Krinos that the fee would be a hardship.

The proposal is pending for consideration by council’s legislative and finance committee.

Krinos said the rest of the money generated by the fees would go into the general fund as a way to help reduce the projected deficit. He expects the fees to generate $975,000.

Sherry DeMar of DeMar Realty Inc. said properties in the city don’t bring high rents. She said a $20,000 house typically nets only $400 a month.

Police Detective Sgt. John Rusnak said that 45 percent to 50 percent of police-call volume “goes to the $400-a-month rental houses.”

But other landlords talked of renovating houses that were once eyesores and renting them to working families who pay taxes and take care of their homes.

Roseann Ehrhart, speaking for Gary M. Crim Inc., said that company pays $27,449 in annual taxes for its Campbell properties.

Krinos, who tried to replace financial director Sherman Miles on the eve of his taking over as mayor Dec. 1, asked for explanations from council as to why it did not move on his recommendation for Torres.

Council members answered that education listed on Miles’ r sum and letters of recommendations from Youngstown State University professors were impressive. He has degrees in accounting, finance, political science and law. Torres has a bachelor of science in business administration from YSU and is in the MBA program there.

Krinos said he has confidence in Torres as “a financial adviser who comes up with new ideas every day to make clients more money.”

Council member Juanita Rich called Torres “a good guy” but said his qualifications don’t compare to Miles’. “I have confidence in the job Miles is doing,” she said. “We as a council have to have confidence in the person who’s sitting in that position.”

Council turned down a request for a zone change so a gun repair shop could open at a Robinson Road address.

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