Gary rental ordinance a work in progress
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent October 23, 2012 9:48PM
Updated: November 25, 2012 11:40AM
GARY — The city’s rental ordinance will likely go before the City Council at its Tuesday meeting even though it’s far from complete.
The ordinance would establish a one-time registration fee, an annual fee that larger property owners feel would be prohibitive and more comprehensive fines for code violators.
Finance Chairwoman Mary Brown told the Finance Committee on Tuesday she can’t see the ordinance coming back to committee a fourth time. The committee, however, still can’t agree on the amount of the annual fee, if it sets an annual fee at all.
Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas, D-1st, said she supports a registration fee to set up a database of the city’s 8,000-plus rental properties and is pleased the ordinance has gone to a complaint-driven inspection system. But she objects to an annual fee, let alone a prohibitive one, because she doesn’t believe the Building Department should base its budget on those fees.
“I can’t support a subsidy for the department to run,” Krusas said. “We can raise fees when we need to, but once establised, (fees are) never lowered.”
Brown also agreed that the council can go back and revise the ordinance.
“Do we need property managers to register, or are we going to argue about the budget?” Brown said. “We’re not dismissing anyone’s concerns, but we can go back.”
Among other changes to the ordinance presented to the committee by Building Commissioner Steven Marcus were plans to exempt properties run by federal or other local housing agencies and a $50 annual renewal fee. Those property managers who pay their registration fee before Jan. 1 will pay $50 instead of $75, and compliance fines will kick in after March 30.