Denison unveiled a revised form of its proposed rental registration and inspection program this week.
For the property owners that sign up for the inspection program the city is offering what it calls a VIP program which stands for Voluntary Inspection Program. It comes with all the same benefits as registration as well as a few perks related to being promoted in city marketing materials as a VIP property.
The new plans were announced at the City Council meeting Tuesday.
The program is has not been finally adopted by city council as of yet. There will be one more public forum on Feb. 13 to gain additional feedback from the citizens before the updated proposal goes to city council with projected start date in May this year.
Ashtyn Smith, a representative of the stakeholders committee and property owner in Denison recapped the last six months worth of discussions with the city regarding the issues property owners voiced with the program as originally proposed.
“We’ve gone through a big evolution,” Smith said. “We expressed how much of the expenses landlords were going to concur if they don’t comply. Here we are today with a program that only benefits landlords. We got exactly what we wanted. Just registering our property gets us to what would equated to about $10,000 net new profit to me last year with just the 50 percent off special trash pickup.”
Denison City Manager Jud Rex said once the city had a chance to sit down and hear concerns from the property owners the city decided to move away from the mandatory aspect of the program.
“We are very encouraged by the support of landlords,” Rex said. “It’s not so much a program as it is a partnership with property owners and tenants to make rental property in Denison better. That is really what the goal is. We learned a whole lot about their business. They learned a lot about ours… It is a great partnership now the city has. We need to maintain that. Part of what we’re going to do is retool our enforcement efforts.”
Code Compliance Manager Robert Lay said the city was never out to use it as a money-making endeavor, and once the citizen concerns over the fees were heard he said that was dropped in favor of an incentive-driven program.
Lay outlined several of the ways the program will benefit landlords. The first was the 50 percent discount on special trash collection at tenant changes for those who register with the city, at no cost. The second benefit is a waiver of the $35 water connection fee under certain circumstances. Another benefit is the 50 percent discount on building permit fees for work related to program code compliance. Multi-family properties will be eligible for a second dumpster. The city will also offer streamlined access to information on prospective tenants.
In regards to information what information will be made available, Rex said it is all public information the city will make a process available to landlords doing background checks on prospective tenants.
What do you think of the city’s changes to the inspection program? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be reached on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.