Morenci city council relaxes rental inspection requirement 1.14.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

When Morenci city council established a rental inspection program in 2005, the decision was made to require re-registration and inspection after three years.

The program is working well, councilor Keith Pennington said, but he asked council to consider extending the time frame to five years.

“We believe that five years would work out well instead of three,” he said at the meeting Monday.

Council approved the change unanimously.

Any existing rental units must be re-registered every five years after the initial signup.

For any housing converted to a rental unit, a registration application must be filed within 90 days of completing renovation. A rental unit cannot be  inhabited until inspected.

Council member Tracy Schell said she would vote in favor of the motion because a registration fee is charged.

“We’re forcing someone to do something and then making them pay for it,” she said, in explaining why she’d rather have a longer time frame.

Building inspector Kevin Arquette expressed concern about new landlords who might not be aware of the city’s regulations.

“There are a lot of properties changing hands now,” he said, and some of those homes might be converted into rental units.

TNG—Council members have discussed in recent meetings the delinquent rental payments from TNG Technologies, a company that leases the city building at the back of Wakefield Park.

“The city has been notified that they have closed the business,” Pennington said.

Back rent and late fees total $14,375, but council voted to forgive the late fees and charge only for the rental payments of $13,125.

PROPERTY—The sale of industrial park property to SBA Towers is now complete. The communications tower company suggested buying the property they now lease from the city.

The .24 acres parcel was sold for $69,000, minus credit for a lease payment already made.

REVIEW—So far two citizens have expressed interest in serving on the board of review. Dick Kelly and Al Acuña offered to join Chris Merillat and Sandy Wheeler on the property review board.

POLICE—Council agreed to open up negotiations with the police union to work on the contract that expires June 30, 2009.

If no amendments were made to the past contract, it was to automatically renew for one year. That covers the 2008-09 fiscal year during which time a new contract was never settled.

HANDGUNS—Police chief Larry Weeks told council about “a fairly drastic change” in handgun registration laws in Michigan.

In the past, he said, local police departments were responsible for receiving an application to purchase a gun, performing a background check on the buyer and inspect each weapon for safety.

The change only requires that a copy of the state purchase paperwork be sent to the police department.

Police agencies seldom went through with the safety inspection, Weeks said, since they didn’t want the liability of saying whether or not a gun was safe to fire.

However, the old procedure did allow the police to verify the serial number of the weapon.

PURCHASES—Schell suggested that council consider a procedure for allowing an emergency purchase without waiting for a council meeting.

The issue came to the front when a fire hydrant was found to be inoperable. Waiting for council’s approval to make a purchase greater than $1,000 (the amount department heads can spend without council approval) could result in a month delay.

A similar situation could arise if a police cruiser broke down or a sewer pump failed.

Council member Jason Cook said that common sense should prevail in those situations, with department heads making a decision to buy for the safety and welfare of the community.

“It’s something to consider for the future,” Schell said.

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