Council tables rental registration fee increase

Goshen College radio station also honored.

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — Faced with a small agenda, Goshen city council got down to business quickly Tuesday night, March 5.

The meeting began with the council’s official recognition of Goshen College’s radio station, WGCS-FM 91.1 The Globe, for excellence and the awards it recently received.

The big discussion of the night, however, centered on a previously proposed, and tabled, increase in the city’s building department fee ordinance.

The amended ordinance would require a $40 biennial registration for each rental dwelling unit in the city, an increase of $10 from the current ordinance.

Mayor Allan Kauffman explained that previously the city had been able to pay for the rental registration program through the general fund, which is how it paid all building department expenses. Recently, however, the state passed legislation requiring that a separate fund be set up exclusively for rental registration programs and the city has found they do not bring in enough revenue through its registration program to cover costs.

Kauffman said property taxes could help cover what the program couldn’t but that he didn’t think that was the right route to take. “There’s no reason that the general property tax payer should be paying for a rental registration program, in my opinion,” he said.

Council president Jim McKee stated his opposition to the increase, noting that the city raised the fee from $25 to $30 last year and didn’t think it was the right time to raise the fee again.

Resident Fred Buttell also voiced his concerns to the council, saying he viewed the increase in fees as unnecessary and “an end-run around the property tax caps.”

Kauffman responded, saying that when the tax caps were put in place, municipalities were told they needed to rely less on property taxes and more on other revenues, including fees.

Kauffman and councilman Jeremy Stutsman each pointed out that while the increase in rates would likely be reflected in tenants’ rents, it would only equate to an increase of 42 cents per month.

Councilman Brett Weddell still had questions about some financial details, so the council eventually decided to table the ordinance for a second time until more information could be found.

Council also passed a resolution Tuesday night setting its policy for informing individuals of public meetings.

The policy will now be to publish notice of public meetings on the city’s website, goshenindiana.org, 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

City attorney Larry Barkes stated that the policy mainly concerned special meetings of council and Kauffman added that the policy has no effect whatsoever on the city continuing to inform the public through news media.

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