As the first year of Northampton’s Rental Inspection Ordinance comes to an end, the borough’s council gave an update on its progress during their November 19 meeting.
The borough’s rental ordinance committee promised to reevaluate the ordinance following its first year and look at its financing to see whether or not the inspection fee was adequately covering the program’s costs.
Councilman Robert McHale announced that no deficiencies or overages have been found in funding, so the “fees associated with registration will stay the same.”
“The revenue is efficiently covering the resources,” he said.
He added that the committee agreed to not make any substantial changes to the ordinance. The only change will be billing per parcel as opposed to billing per address. This will alleviate concerns for landlords who have multiple units in the same building, but different addresses per unit.
McHale said it was never the intent to charge those landlords more. He said the committee had not realized that some apartment buildings used multiple addresses.
Councilman Ed Pany asked McHale to confirm that the inspection fees will cover the costs of the inspections, so that taxpayers do not have to subsidize the program.
McHale confirmed, adding that the committee will look at finances periodically and raise fees if expenses are too high. He said taxpayers will never be asked to cover the costs.
Some members of council said they hope residents see the benefits of this program after several months of controversies and delays.
“We were accused of creating a ‘cash cow,’” said Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski, Sr. “[The program] is not here to punish people. It is here to make sure they have a healthy, safe, clean environment to live in.”
Councilwoman Judy Kutzler agreed. She said that the program is not bringing in a lot of money, but it is bringing in peace of mind.
“[The program] is beneficial to the tenant and it is beneficial to the landlord,” she added.
All of council praised Fire Chief Keith Knoblach, who took on the role as full-time code officer after the ordinance was enacted.
“I live here too and I do not want to see the town go down the drain,” said Knoblach.
He said the ordinance is constantly evolving, and as the borough navigates its ins and outs, they will make updates as needed.
Added McHale, “Get ready for Ordinance 2.0.”