Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1103174

Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2014

Committee to study inspections

Council meetings to be held at 7 p.m. on first and third Tuesdays beginning Feb. 1
By David Hotle | Jan 16, 2014

After realizing that going over a draft ordinance to implement rental inspections would take a good amount of time, the Washington City Council Wednesday voted to establish a subcommittee to keep the process moving.

While discussing the outcome of a recent meeting between the city council and area landlords in reference to inspections, council member Kathryn Salazar recommended the subcommittee, saying that she hoped it could keep the process moving forward.

“I don’t want this to be an issue that a year from now we are still working on it,” she said. “I don’t want to be in those shoes a year from now. I want to keep things moving forward and keep it on track.”

Several other council members remarked that, with the budget process coming up which promises to take much of the council’s time, a separate committee working on the draft may allow progress on re-drafting the ordinance to continue.

Salazar said that the committee should be “balanced” with some landlords and some tenants serving. She said that she had spoken with local attorney Craig Davis, who served on the ordinance committee of the former Housing Improvement Task Force, which recommended the inspections, and he said he was interested in serving on the subcommittee. The task force had outlined 20 things that make a liveable unit, which would be inspected for if the ordinance were approved.

Council member Bob Shellmyer, who had not been able to attend the landlord meeting, asked if Salazar believed that the 15-page draft wasn’t a good start and if she was concerned that the issue would die out. Salazar said that she is concerned the council could get “bogged down” with a lot of details to get a working ordinance.

“Doing it in city council meetings … I believe we are going to be here a year from now and nothing will have been done,” she said.

Shellmyer said he had spoken with many people who had attended the landlord meeting. He said the biggest complaint had been the council had not gone through the ordinance line by line to try to make something better.

Council member Jaron Rosien said that several people in the crowd of the meeting had pulled out items from the proposed draft they felt were unacceptable.

Council member Bob Shepherd said that the council should set parameters for the committee. He said that the council should approve the membership of the subcommittee and approve the revisions of the ordinance the subcommittee makes.

During discussion, the council determined Salazar should lead the subcommittee. She said that she would approach several people about serving on the subcommittee and bring the membership back to the council during the next regular meeting.

In other business, the council:

• held a public hearing for Code of Ordinances 2013 updates and approved the code. No public comment was given;

• reviewed and adopted the annual report from the city to the Washington County Riverboat Foundation;

• approved the mayoral appointment of Susan Fisher to the Planning and Zoning Commission;

• tabled a resolution approving a management service agreement with the Washington Community Y to run the Steele Family Aquatic Center;

•established a new neighborhood pride fund;

• approved a resolution endorsing an application for RISE funds for the Washington Business Park; and

• approved moving regular city council meetings to 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month beginning Feb. 1.

 

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