By Susan Tebben
A moratorium on new Internet cafes is set to expire in June, but the cafes in Boardman Township have so far maintained their compliance with township and state regulations.
“It’s been calm; there have been no issues,” said George Platton, assistant fiscal officer for the township.
Seven Internet sweepstakes cafes are in operation, according to Platton, and the businesses paid a total of $23,000 in fees last year to the township.
The township charges each business $100 per machine, and cafe owners are required to post gaming odds, undergo testing to prove the machines are sweepstakes and not slots, keep a minimum age limit of 18 and submit to background checks, according to a resolution passed by the township in October 2012.
The moratorium was required by the Ohio Attorney General's Office, in an effort to find out how many cafes are in Ohio and get them all to register, according to Boardman Zoning Inspector Anna Mamone.
In another township matter, talk of a registration system or rental properties has been tabled indefinitely, according to Mamone and other township officials.
Last May, trustees gave township Administrator Jason Loree a deadline of July 1, 2012, to set up a rental-property registration program, which was modeled after a program in Youngstown, where property owners would pay a fee for an annual license and complete an annual safety inspection.
"It was a way, we thought, to be able to get inside and look at these properties," said township Trustee Brad Calhoun.
But the board heard from a few property owners during discussions who said people who keep good properties should not have to suffer in order for the township to catch the bad properties.
In the end, trustees decided to hold off on the program, and have no plans to bring it back to the table any time soon.
"We're not interested in putting in another layer of government and bureaucracy," Calhoun said.
In Youngstown's program, vacant properties and federally subsidized properties are exempt from the registration.
Subsidized housing already is inspected by a government agency.
Carmelita Douglas, Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority executive director, said there are 223 Section 8 housing vouchers in Boardman.