DeKalb housing program on agenda for Monday

DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council on Monday will consider alternative funding methods to support a new housing registration and inspection program focused on fixing the city’s rental property issues.

After giving initial support to new housing ordinances such as crime-free lease measures and a “three strike” rule for tenants who keep a disorderly house during its last meeting, the council will now turn its attention to how to fund the expansive program, estimated to cost anywhere from $244,000 to $454,000 a year to start.

City Manager Mark Biernacki had proposed launching the program with one program coordinator, a clerk, and three inspectors all at full-time cost for $454,000 a year, but council members asked for less expensive alternatives.

“It’s clear that a consensus did not exist,” Biernacki said of a full-time staffing option. “Instead, there will be a mixture of full-time and part-time.”

Biernacki developed three other scenarios for consideration. The first two proposals would cost $284,000 in each of the first two years to operate with a full-time program coordinator and associate, and three part-time inspectors.

The difference in proposals is the split in funding. In one, a $50 rental building fee and $15.24 rental unit fee would generate $227,000 while the city’s general fund would cover $57,000. The second option would put more reliance the general fund at $105,000 and lower fees for landlords, who would contribute $179,000 of the revenue through fees.

Starting in 2015 and beyond, both options call for five full-time positions, increasing the total cost to the $450,000 to $475,000 a year range.

The last option is the cheapest with all positions being part time with the exception of the program coordinator. That program would cost $244,650 in the first two years and then $423,290 each year after, with full-time inspectors added.

Area landlords disagreed with the proposed fees that would fund the program during the council’s last meeting.

Before the council meeting, aldermen will meet as a Committee of the Whole to discuss a new towing ordinance that could help deter crime. Under the proposal, criminal activities such as driving under the influence of alcohol or any offense in which a vehicle was used could result in the vehicle being towed.

The offender would then have to pay an administrative fine for the vehicle to be released.

DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery said there are a high number of crimes committed by people coming from outside DeKalb and impounding their vehicles as part of the punishment could be a big deterrent.

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