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Property Owners Question Rental Fees And Housing Checklist

A number of property owners/landlords of rental properties were on hand at the Beloit City Council meeting Tuesday night to question Resolution no. 2014-2 that would supplement Resolution 2014-1 in setting the fee schedules the City was proposing charging for rental property inspections. They also asked for explanations concerning the proposed minimum housing checklist that would allow Code Enforcement Officer Chris Jones to enforce Ordinance No 2091 passed in August 2011. Most felt a lot of the list was unattainable, not understandable or did not pertain to the properties they are renting.

Resolution No. 2014-2 was to amend and supplement the 2014 fee schedule adopted in Resolution no. 2014 1 in order to ensure the City is compensated for the use of facilities, equipment and services. The proposed fees were $10 for 1 to 3 rental units, $15 for r to 10 rental units, $20 for 11 plus rental units and a rental re-inspection fee of $20.

Property owner/landlord, Harry Gantenbein asked to address the council on this issue. Gantenbein said he has eleven rental units and talked about the money he spends on each of these units. "When one of my tenants has a problem I take care of it. I spend a lot of money fixing them up and I don't think people who have nice properties should have to pay an annual fee." Several other landlords came forward to address the council and express their concerns about these charges.

Since Code Officer Chris Jones has some rental properties, one person asked who is going to be in charge of inspecting his properties and would he be charged the same fees as other owners. Jones said he asks one of the council members to accompany him to inspect his properties. Councilman Lloyd Littrell said he also owns rental properties. Jones was asked if he knew how many rental properties there are in Beloit and he estimated there are about 150. Landlords also asked if the inspections would be annually or bi-annually. Jones said the present Ordinance calls for annual inspections so if the council wants to change that they would have to amend this.

Councilman Bob Richards made a motion to approve the fee schedule as proposed, seconded by Pat Struble. Dennis Lutgen said he is opposed to these fees and named other landlords he has talked to who also oppose them. Mayor Naasz called for a roll call vote on the motion on the floor. Lloyd Littrell abstained from voting since he has rental properties. Those voting No included Councilmen Frank Delka, Bob Petterson, Rick Brown and Kent Miller. Council members voting yes included Matt Otte, Bob Richards and Pat Struble. The motion was defeated.

Dennis Lutgen came forward to address the issues stated in the minimum housing checklist for property inspections; which would allow Code Enforcement Officer Jones to enforce Ordinance 2091 as passed in August 2011. Some of the regulations Lutgen had issues with were the regulations on boarding and rooming houses, rules on housing unit entrances, garbage and trash receptacles, lighting outlets and ventilation regulations.

After discussion it was decided they would have to have an amendment to the ordinance to change inspections to bi-annually so the motion was tabled until the next meeting with no fees being charged. City Attorney Katie Cheney said Ordinance 29-1 already contains most of this language anyway. A roll call vote was taken with Littrell abstaining. Councilmen Delka and Miller voted no with the other five councilmen voting yes so the motion passed.

Ordinance 2138 dealing with re-zoning of property located near the existing Sonic Drive-in on Highway 24 from A-1 Agriculture to C-2 Commercial property. This is necessary to allow the owners of the present Sonic to demolish and replace the existing restaurant on Highway 24 with a new and larger facility within the next two years. The owners have purchased a small piece of adjacent land to their existing restaurant to make room for the expansion. The council approved this motion by a vote of 8 to 0.

During Formal actions, Director of the Streets and Transportation Department, Mike Haeffele, discussed the debris pile on the North Campus. Under the contract the city has for the North Campus with Mike Cooper the city is responsible for cleaning up this debris which is mostly large chunks of concrete. Haeffele proposed hiring a contractor to crush the concrete debris at a cost of $9 per ton or a total of approximately $23,000. $11,500 would come from the CIP fund and the other half would come from the Special Highway fund that comes from gasoline tax money collected. Haeffele said they can have approximately 2000 tons of concrete crushed and this could be used for alleys and streets throughout the city. This would give them good material at less than one-half the cost to purchase it at a savings of about $53,000. Councilman Miller moved they approve this bid for the debris pile on the North Campus with Councilman Brown seconding the motion. Councilman Otte proposed an amendment to the motion to say at a cost not to exceed $23,000. Councilman Miller accepted the amendment and the council approve the amendment 8 to 0.

The governing body, city administrator and the city attorney went into a 10 minute closed session with Beloit Police Chief David Elam and Kirt Reed present. Mayor Naasz announced no action was taken during the meeting.

During his report City Administrator Glenn Rodden announced the council needed to discuss animal control during the next meeting. Rodden discussed the city's health insurance policy with Blue Cross/Blue Shield and said the policy will be slightly different in that it will only allow two options instead of four. The rates however should be slightly lower overall. He plans to have a city employee meeting in the near future. They also hope to change the renewal date from February-March to June or July which would help out a lot.

During the Work Session, Street and Transportation Director Haeffele discussed the problems his department has with downtown parking and snow routes. They have an ongoing issue with people parking their vehicles downtown over night and sometimes leaving them for two, three or even four days. This makes it difficult for his staff to do snow removal because they have to go around all the vehicles. This is hard to do and takes extra time with a snowplow. They usually clear the snow out late the night or early in the morning. He is proposing eliminating parking vehicles downtown from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. The council talked about putting this curfew in place all year long.

Councilman Richards asked how they could post this so people could see it. Haeffele said they could make it an Ordinance and publish it in the paper and then run a side bar reminder to notify people of the time it would be in affect. It was discussed that the offenders could be notified of their violation the first time and told the vehicles would be towed after that at the cost of the owner. The police would have to be involved to help run tag numbers. An announcement could be made on the radio station to remind everyone, Haeffele said.

The Street and Transportation Department has a red line area that they always do snow removal on first which is Hersey and 8th Street from one end of town to the other, Main Street and Asherville Road. The Council agreed something needs to be done and told Haeffele to get with City Attorney Cheney and come up with the wording of the Ordinance and have it on the agenda at the next meeting.

City Code Officer Jones gave a review of Chapters 9, 10, and 11 of the City Code Book. No action was taken as these were discussion only items.

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