Council drops rental inspection program, extends waiving building fees

In other actions taken by the De Soto City Council at last night's meeting, the city's rental property inspection program was abandoned, the period for waiving all residential building permit fees was extended and approximately $1,800 in building permit fees for a new structure at Kill Creek Farm were waived.

With the 2012 budget proces finalized, the De Soto City Council returned to the discussion of the city's rental inspection program and how to procede in the future. After hearing from city landlords, including Councilman Randy Johnson, and from City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle regarding the city's adoption of the International Property Maintenance Code, which sets the minimal standards of living for any residential property, the council voted 3-2 to drop the inspection program.

The program called for regular city inspections of all rental properties in De Soto to ensure they were meeting standards of living.

Several landlords spoke of the resistance their renters had to having others in their homes.

"My renters resent having other people in their homes, including me, unless they are invited," said Belva Thrasher. "All of my renters are perfectly able to convey when they have a problem on the property and ask for it to be taken care of."

Council members Johnson, Ron McDaniel and John Krudwig voted to drop the program while Lori Murdock and Rick Walker opposed it.

After hearing an update on the number of new residential building permits granted since the city began waiving permit fees, the council voted unanimously to extend the window for receiving the discount, which would have gone from 100 percent waived to 50 percent at the end of this month, to the end of the calendar year.

Since the waiver program began in March 12 residential structures have been approved: eight housing units, two triplex units and two single family homes, and another handful of builders are nearly ready to apply for permits, according to Guilfoyle.

"Just based on quick calculations, the city is at roughly a one:one ratio of waived fees to assessed value," said Mayor Dave Anderson.

The waiver will now drop from 100 percent to 50 percent on Jan. 1 and go until March.

While fees are waived for residential building permits, all other structures are still requiring full payment and so a request was made by the Kill Creek Barn Association to waive the approximately $1,800 in fees for the new barn to be built on the property. The council approved waiving the fees 3-2.

Council members Rick Walker, Lori Murdock and John Krudwig approved the waiver. Before the official vote Murdock did disclose to the council and the audience that she is a member of the association and may serve on the board in the future, that said she shared her feelings on the importance of the barn to the De Soto community.

"This isn't about building a barn for Darrel Zimmerman or any one person, this is about replacing something that was taken from this community by a storm and I would hope that we, as a council and community, would respond and rally around any similar community staple," she said. "I would hope that we would do the same if it had been one of the churches or the scout house."

Councilman Johnson stated that he didn't disagree with the importance and "feel-good vibe" the barn brought to the community in the past or would bring again in the future but was concerned with what revenue it would contribute.

"I would like to see a projection of what [the barn] will bring to De Soto other than a good feeling if we're going to continue to spend tax payer money on it," he said.

Representatives from the barn association Mitra Templin and Brent Lathrom told the council their group would not be opposed to providing a revenue projection in the future but that they were unable to do so at this time.

"The barn and the association will generate revenue at some point, we'll have to to keep going," Lathrom said, "but before we can say how much that will be or when that will be we need to get the barn built first."

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