The Walden Village Board held a public hearing last week on a proposed local law that would revise the schedule of fees imposed in the landlord registry.
The proposed schedule calls for the imposition of a fee of $25 per building, plus $10 per unit upon initial registration. Landlords would then be charged $25 per building per year.
“I don’t see it as a major problem at this time, for what I asked for at a budget hearing,” said Building Inspector Dean Stickles.
According to the proposed local law, the current landlord registry law was adopted in 2017.
“Through the implementation of this law over the past five-year period, it has become clear that the imposition of an administrative fee to cover the administrative overhead involved with the collection and processing of the annual registration form is appropriate and is in the best interest of the taxpayers of Walden,” the draft local law reads.
Several speakers at the public hearing thought the charge was too high. Others wondered if it needs to be done annually or could it be done less frequently.
Stickles noted that it is costly to mail out the forms each year and that landlords don’t always respond to written notices.
Several trustees wondered if the forms could simply be emailed, but Village Manager John Revella said that record retention would become an issue and whether or not electronically maintained records could be made available to the public under the Freedom of Information Laws.
“We’ve been chewing the same bone for years and years now,” said former Mayor Susan Taylor regarding landlords who don’t respond to update their registry.
She asked if landlords are ever fined for not updating their registry.
Stickles said approximately 15 landlords were fined prior to the outset of the pandemic. None have been fined since then.
“There just has to be a better way,” Taylor said. “ I feel bad for the tenants, who have an issue and can’t get a hold of the landlord.”
The board decided to keep the public hearing open until the June 7 meeting and will consider other revisions.
“We have to review our laws and our policies and our codes,” said Deputy Mayor Willie Carley. “We have to get into the devil and the details.”