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Gary creates a rental ordinance

Updated: January 7, 2013 7:13AM



GARY — After nearly four months of debate, the city now has a rental ordinance, albeit one that packs a lot less of a wallop.

The council at its Tuesday night meeting passed the ordinance 7-2, with Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas, D-1st, and Councilman Ron Brewer, D-at large, casting the dissenting votes, establishing minimum standards and a registration and inspection program for residential rental housing units. Property owners will still be required to pay a $75 per-unit registration fee and register with the city so that it can create a database of property owners at the first of the year.

The renewal fee, however, was knocked down to $25 per unit from $75, Building Commissioner Steven Marcus told the council, and language that would allow for a discount for properties registering early was taken out.

But perhaps the biggest sticking point in the debate was how the city would handle inspections: Council President Kyle Allen and Gary Fire Chief Teresa Everett fought for routine inspections, while Krusas and representatives from the Indiana Apartment Association argued for complaint-driven inspections.

The ordinance as passed contains complaint-driven inspections.

Krusas said 21 large apartment complexes comprise 4,800, or more than half of the city’s rental units, and thus the $360,000 the Building Department would collect would be on their backs. Because the building department never presented the Finance Committee with a budget declaring what it would need to set up the computer system that will track the rental properties, she said that’s too much for only 21 properties to shoulder.

“We don’t need to start off with big, high funds. We should drop the renewal fee for now and come back with a realistic budget,” Krusas said. “We only find ways to spend monies generated, and these 21 properties are easy to pick on.”

Allen reiterated that the city should either have a rental ordinance or not, but ultimately it comes down to a quality-of-life issue.

The council also voted 8-1, with Allen casting the lone dissenting vote, to approve the pilot agreement for Park Shore Commons in the city’s Miller section.

The pilot agreement first presented to the Finance Committee would have Millennia pay the taxes currently paid on the property the first year — in this case, $81,943 — with future payments increasing either by 2 percent multiplied by the total rent revenue, or the base pilot amount of $81,960 increased annually by 3 percent over the course of a 30-year loan as payment in lieu of taxes.

The city has since asked Millennia to lower the loan length to 20 years, and that was what the council passed.



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