Area realtors Dick Sackett and Ron Rhodes spoke to the council about the proposed ordinance that would require all real estate and privately owned rental agencies to have their rental properties inspected or face fines. The ordinance was proposed after several serious offenses, including leaking sewage and dilapidated and unsafe living conditions at properties within the city. The Planning and Zoning Committee drafted the ordinance, and council first discussed it at the November council meeting.
Other members of the Tri- County Realtors board also were also present for the meeting. Sackett said he felt there was a better way to resolve the issue and asked the council to call a public meeting to discuss options regarding the issue. Joe Cotham, a local realtor who has lived in the area most of his life and owns numerous rental homes, said, "I don't understand why you are wanting to use a 25 pound hammer to fix a problem that needs to be fixed with a smaller one."
Cherokee Village Mayor Lloyd Hefley explained the ordinance is about protecting the safety and health of the people who live within the city limits. He said he would like to have local realtors attend a special meeting to discuss more cost effective options to resolve the issue. The mayor explained, for the most part, rental properties were in great shape, but, when health hazards are present, the issue effects everyone.
Cotham was concerned the cost of the inspections would have to be passed along to renters, many of whom may not be able to afford the additional cost.
The requested meeting will be set after the first of the year and the issue was tabled.
Council members discussed the possibility of posting city related items, such as ordinances and legal notices, on bulletin boards throughout the city, rather than publishing them in the local newspaper. City Clerk/Treasurer Lana Hamilton explained she had spoken with the Municipal League and was informed, since there wasn't a local newspaper within their city, they could opt to post notices in at least five locations within the city, saving the city a considerable amount in publishing costs annually.
The suggestion was met with concern by residents who spoke, including many land owners who live out of town but want to be in touch with their home town. Through the newspaper, they are able to read about items that might be of concern to them. Others discussed the many elderly residents who might not be able to get out and read notices on a bulletin board. Other suggestions included speaking with Areawide Media, the only legally defined publishing company in the area, regarding the possibility of an online-only posting of the city's advertisements, making them available to the public.
Some council members had concerns about the legality of not posting legal advertisements in a public newspaper. Hamilton said she would check into the option of online posting and bring the topic back to the next meeting.
The city voted to pay for Medicare supplemental insurance for three employees instead of paying for full coverage through insurance offered through the Municipal League.
Paying for off-site computer backup drew quite a large discussion. Hamilton said the city backs up its files at night but needs files to be saved at an alternate location. She presented a proposal from a company which performs the services. The file storage would cost an initial set up fee and a monthly fee.
Many residents were outraged at the city spending money on this type of service considering current financial issues.
Two residents explained their companies do a backup and put it in a safety deposit box at a nearby bank. They suggested the city do the same, while others suggested Hamilton take the backup home.
Hamilton explained the state requires off-site back-up, and if a tornado or other natural disaster occurred, neither option would be viable. Council tabled a decision until the next meeting.
Former alderman Peter Martin spoke up and reminded council there is currently an ordinance in effect that states the city is required to store back up files and questioned why this was not being done.
The council did not pass a budget during the meeting, but is working on the 2012 budget for presentation at a later date.
The Cherokee Village City Council meets the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Cherokee Village City Hall.