Perhaps the most voiced audience opinion during Thursday night’s special Centerville City Council meeting to discuss the rental permit fee was “make everybody pay a part of it.”
Centerville’s rental permit fee makes landlords pay $25 every two years and doesn’t take into account the number of rental units each landlord owns. The fee allegedly started in 1995 as a way to track landlords who owned rental properties in the city.
Thursday’s meeting was the third one the Centerville City Council held to get input from landlords. During each meeting city officials have said they intend to increase the rental permit fee.
Patrick Antonen, city administrator, said they are looking at several different proposals. One option is patterned after Storm Lake, a community similar to Centerville.
They charge a structure fee and a per unit fee and grant landlords a fee discount for attending training sessions, Antonen said. As an example, a landlord with a four-plex pays a $15 structure fee and $7 for the other three rental units per year.
“Out of all the different systems I’ve seen I like that one the best,” Antonen said. “But we’re always open to other ideas.”
The audience did have other ideas, with arguments that ranged from raising the rental permit fee would be passed on to renters who cannot afford it, owner-occupied houses don’t pay anything and all residents should pay for code compliance.
Kathy Cooprider addressed the council and argued landlords and tenants were being targeted excessively and funding should come from the entire city.
“Why should landlords have to fund inspectors who are supposed to inspect all properties?” Cooprider asked.
Cooprider liked fee discounts for landlords who attend training but nothing else.
Rita Matkovich said people who own rental property shouldn’t be harassed or belittled.