By jeanne starmack
The city is considering an annual fee for rental units that could be as much as $100, though some officials aren’t convinced it should be that high.
City council members and Mayor George Krinos discussed the idea at a caucus meeting Wednesday as a way to bring money into the cash-strapped city and to control nuisance properties.
Krinos is proposing the plan, saying landlords would get services for the fee that include a fire inspection, a zoning inspection and a tenant background check through the police department.
The fire inspection and background check would be optional, Krinos said. Zoning inspections are not, he said.
The fee would apply only to active rental units, he said.
Council President William VanSuch said he would not vote for the fee if it were that high.
The $100 fee is mentioned in the city’s’ financial recovery plan, but that could be changed, said Finance Director Sherman Miles. He suggested a $20 fee, like Youngstown’s.
“We could match theirs and bring in $25,000 a year — that’s something,” he said. Councilman Michael Tsikouris said he would want to see the cost justified for the services the city is providing.
“And reward landlords who take care of their properties,” he suggested.
He pointed out that if landlords passed the fee on to their tenants, it would mean only $8.50 a month more in rent.
He said after the meeting, though, that he isn’t necessarily in favor of a $100 fee.
“I’m still open to discussing it,” he said. “I want to listen to Realtors and landlords.”
VanSuch said the fee might mean that landlords wouldn’t do business in Campbell.
“We have an awful lot of empty homes in Campbell,” he said. “We’ll see a lot more empty homes.”
“Would you rather see an empty home or a tenant in there who causes trouble for the city,” Tsikouris said.
Councilman Joe Mazzocca Jr. said he didn’t want to see an additional burden on senior citizens “who never caused a problem in our city.”
City resident Chris Grachanin said she is also in favor of a lower fee.
“Eight dollars is a lot to someone on a fixed income or government assistance,” she said.
In other business, officials talked about the city’s hiring a full-time police officer with money already in the police budget.
A detective retired, and a new officer could be hired for less than what the detective was paid, they said.
Officials said they would wait until they check with a state commission that oversees the city’s finances because it is in fiscal emergency.
The commission has said the city must follow a financial recovery plan, and that plan does not include hiring more employees.