Merrillville changes rental ordinance

2013-02-26T20:22:00Z 2013-02-26T23:24:04Z Merrillville changes rental ordinanceChas Reilly chas.reilly@nwi.com, (219) 662-5324 nwitimes.com
February 26, 2013 8:22 pm  • 

MERRILLVILLE | The town's rental registration ordinance fully complies with state law following Tuesday's Town Council action, Town Attorney John Bushemi said.

The council unanimously adopted multiple changes to the ordinance, which created minimum standards for rental housing in Merrillville and established procedure for Merrillville to inspect rental units if the town receives complaints about them.

Bushemi said the ordinance reflects that funds generated from an annual registration fee landlords pay only would be used to enforce the ordinance.

The ordinance, which was enacted in July last year, initially indicated some of the funds collected would have been used to increase police staffing.

Clerk-Treasurer Eugene Guernsey has said hiring more police officers doesn't qualify as an administrative cost associated with enforcing the ordinance.

Bushemi said Tuesday's action removes all language indicating funds from the registration fee would go to police.

Another change made Tuesday reduces the annual registration fee landlords pay from $100 per rental unit to $50 per unit.

Last week, Town Administrator Howard Fink said landlords who already paid $100 for each of their rental units in 2012 would receive a credit for fees due this year.

Councilman Richard Hardaway commended the council for reducing the fee. He said he opposed the rental registration ordinance when it was proposed last year because of its fee structure.

Last week, town leaders said they were unsure if proposed state legislation would have affected Tuesday's amendments.

House Bill 1313 would prohibit municipalities without a rental registration ordinance from enacting one until at least July 1, 2014. Bushemi said the potential legislation wouldn't impact Merrillville because it already established its ordinance.

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