City rental registration may go away

January 7, 2013

Rental property owners in the city of Washington may soon be getting a reprieve from having to register their properties and pay a $12 unit fee.

At their agenda meeting Monday night, city council members openly expressed interest in disbanding the ordinance that was enacted only three years ago.

“It’s just not working,” said Councilman Joe Manning, who was the first on council to suggest scrapping the program that was initially designed to keep track of negligent property owners and tenants.

The program was set up not to be a revenue source for the city but was to operate self-sufficiently through a $12 fee per rental unit. However, according to Manning, the program cost $15,000 to run last year, with its implementation burdening the city clerk, code enforcement officer and police department with paperwork and enforcement.

“It’s gotten unwieldy,” he stated.

Councilmen Ken Westcott and Matt Staniszewski agreed with Manning in that it may be time to discontinue the program.

“I want to get rid of it. I didn’t like it from the beginning,” said Westcott, who was not on council at the time of its passage.

The councilmen all agreed that the program was also proving to be unfair for the property owners who have met its requirements.

Currently, the city is issuing 350 citations to property owners who are in violation of the requirements.

“I think it’s only fair that those individuals who did not pay have to pay,” said Manning.

After following through on the citations, Manning said, the program should then be scrapped.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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