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Council Approves Point-of-Sale, Occupancy Certicate Fee Increases for Property Owners

City says it needs to cover cost associated with inspections and verifying occupancy

Property owners in Shaker Heights will soon see higher fees for selling and renting their spaces.

City Council on Monday voted to increase point-of-sale inspection fees and the cost of applications for certificates of occupancy. The point-of-sale increase is expected to generate $27,350 in additional revenue, Housing Inspection Department Director William E. Hanson said. Meanwhile, the higher certificate of occupancy fees could yield up to $181,820 per year.

Councilwoman Nancy Moore, chair of the Neighborhood Revitalization Committee, said the group recommended the point-of-sale increases to council because fees have not been raised in four years and they no longer cover inspection costs.

"Costs have increased, along with wages and other factors that are involved in the actual inspection process," Moore said. "The intent of raising it and the intent of the recommendation is to charge a fee for a service and recoup the cost of that service."

Here is a breakdown of new and prior inspection fees for those selling a residence:

Inspection costs

Type of Real Estate New Fee Previous fee Estimated Revenue Single-family $200 $200 $20,650 Condominium $150 $150 $0 Two family $300 $200 $6,500 Apartments $200 first unit/$50 each additional $150 first unit/$50 each additional $200

Certificate of occupancy fees were raised even higher, but that's because officials say they incur even more costs trying to figure out whether people are actually occupying certain rental units. Moore said sometimes it goes as far as officials monitoring if someone is getting a newspaper delivery or spending time on sources like Craigslist.com to see whether property owners in the city are posting ads offering rental space.

"It's become like detective work," Moore said. "We know where 374 are, but there's so many more. People are having to turn them in."

The city has incurred costs and lost time from tracking down property owners because many of them live "out of state, out of mind," councilman and Finance Committee Chair James  Brady said.

"It's a business transaction," he said. "The price of running a business as the price of running a city has increased."

Certificate of occupancy costs

Type of rental New fee Prior fee Estimated revenue Single-family $200 ($400 late fee) $50($100 late fee) $56,250 Condominium $100 ($200 late fee) $50 ($100 late fee) $8,750 Two-family $100 ($200 late fee per unit) $50 ($100 late fee) $90,000 Apartment $45 ($60 late fee) $35 ($50 late fee) $26,820
Mark Zetzer October 26, 2012 at 08:44 PM
These steep fee hikes are more bad news for Shaker Heights, as the cost of living and working here continues to rise dramatically. The fee increases come on top of a 29% income tax increase enacted this month. What are Shaker taxpayers getting for all these cost hikes? Where is the value that will retain residents and businesses and attract new ones? I understand that tax revenues are down, but median incomes are down too -- at 20-year lows. City government cannot continue with endless tax and fee hikes. A correction in government has to occur for the private sector to grow again. To do this the City has to prioritize. For example, in a fiscal crisis it is not essential that the City conduct its own point of sale inspections. Home sellers can pay for these inspections themselves. Certificate of Occupancy permits also serve no essential need. What’s more, these fees are not “business transactions”, in which two parties voluntarily trade. The fees are imposed by force of law. The only remedy is relocation to another district, and I fear that many more will opt to flee the increasingly prohibitive tax regime of Shaker Heights.
AM October 26, 2012 at 11:29 PM
It is so sad to watch the demise of Shaker due to ignorant, incompetent and greedy government officials.

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