COATESVILLE >> City Council approved changes to codes department fees in the city during a meeting on Monday evening.
In a unanimous vote, council passed the second reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 108-1 “fees” to revise the fees for code enforcement and inspection work in the city, and certain building and related permits and inspection fees, and to adopt replacement fees.
According to the ordinance, the revisions are intended to replace all fees for residential construction, commercial construction, electrical permits, fire permits, mechanical and fuel gas permits, plumbing permits, non-permitted construction activity and miscellaneous activities – such as demolition, construction trailer certificate of occupancy, etc. – and all related building and rental inspection fees.
In general, the concept of the ordinance was to streamline all the requirements and all the fees to make the process much simpler to understand, said City Manager Michael Trio. The city is striving for absolutely consistent and even-handed codes enforcement, he said.
Under the ordinance, the building inspection fee will be raised from $50 to $66. The cost of an annual rental license fee will remain at $25. The costs of some other fees have been reduced.
“This is intended to be a very simple ordinance,” said Solicitor John Carnes Jr. “It’s an ordinance that sets a series of fees, on a formula that’s been used in other places successfully, and in comparison between these fees and the fees that we had before, there are very many significant benefits.”
He said the ordinance also provides the opportunity for a quick fix in the future if it’s needed, because City Council can propose a resolution to amend the ordinance, so if there is a problem, that can be addressed.
The ordinance is intended to be beneficial, not a big trap, Carnes said.
Several landlords who rent out properties in the city attended the meeting to make public comments regarding the ordinance.
In particular, some landlords took issue with the tenant-complaint mechanism because they were skeptical that tenants could file ‘false complaints’ which could result in the landlords being charged for the complaints, even if the tenant did not have a legitimate basis for filing a complaint.
Council members said they would propose an amendment to make it clear that landlords would not be charged for false complaints, and that tenants would need to prove that they first contacted their landlords before filing complaints. The amendment cannot be voted on until the next council meeting on March 14.
Coatesville Housing Association President Paul Evans thanked council for putting some due process into the landlord-tenant complaint protocol.
“I’m looking forward to the revised fees,” Evans said.
Follow Daily Local News staff writer Lucas M. Rodgers on Twitter @LucasMRodgers and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lucasmrodgers.