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APPROVED MINUTES OF THE
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
June 20, 2017
Conference Room #119
5:30 P.M.
 
Present: Commissioners: Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Brown, Betsy Artz, Richard Clanton, Robert Coughlin, Erwin Haas, and Mayor Stephen Kepley. Also present: City Engineer Tim Bradshaw, Finance Director Tom Chase, Assistant Finance Director Bhama Cairns, Community Development Director Terry Schweitzer, Economic Development Planner Lisa Golder, Assistant Planner Joe Pung, City Assessor Andy Johnson, Deputy City Clerk Becky Schultz, Fire Chief Brent Looman, Deputy Fire Chief Gregg Ginebaugh, Fire Department Administrative Assistant Nancy Shane, Deputy Administrator Mark Rambo, Deputy Police Chief Don Tuuri, Human Resources Director Gail Dewey, Public Relations Consultant Holly Wolniakowski and three (3) citizens.
 
INSPECTIONS DEPARTMENT:
 
  1. RECOMMEND ADOPTION OF ORDINANCE TO AMEND SEC. 74-71 THROUGH 74-19 OF ARTICLE 3, CHAPTER 74 OF THE CODE OF ORDINANCES AND ADOPTION OF INSPECTIONS DEPARTMENT FEE SCHEDULE FOR RENTAL INSPECTIONS & CERTIFICATIONS.
Director of Engineering and Inspections Tim Bradshaw reviewed his memorandum dated June 20, 2017 explaining the request to update the rental dwelling inspection ordinance and the Inspections Department fee schedule.  The changes are more in line with neighboring communities and are supported by the Rental Property Owners Association of Grand Rapids.  The intent is to maintain or reduce current fees for responsible property owners, while increasing fees for expired rental certifications and re-inspection fees as incentives for underperforming property owners to remain in compliance.  Inspections would use 90 day and 30 day reminder letters that would note fees and detail inspection criteria.  The City currently has 1,174 rental properties, with 891 certified, 205 on hold, and 78 expired.  Projected fees collected could increase from $28,875 to $49,975. The increase would be in penalties for non-compliance and re-inspection fees; a decrease in fees is projected for responsible property owners.  The goal of the changes is to improve safety and living conditions for renters and potentially reduce the number of inspections required.
 
Discussion on re-inspection fees with Artz suggesting a $100 fee to send a stronger message.  Under Sec. 74-75 (d)(5)(b) the ordinance will allow inspectors to inspect additional units for each found not compliant; language will be changed from “shall be added” to “may be added”.  Discussion on number of units inspected based on total units rented and whether roofing inspections should be mandatory or optional.
 
Motion by Kepley, seconded by Coughlin to recommend to City Commission the adoption of an ordinance to amend Sec. 74-71 through 74-79 of Article 3, Chapter 74 and adopt Inspections Department fee schedule, with the following changes:
  1. Multiple Unit Inspection Policy – up to 20 units, inspect all; 21-200 units, inspect 20; 201 or more units, inspect 10%.
  2. Residential re-roof inspection remains mandatory with a $50 fee (The City will inspect the site one time upon receiving a request for the inspection or 30 days after the permit is issued).
  3. Rental Certification Re-inspection Fee increased to $75.
     
                                                                                        Motion Carried.
     
    PLANNING DEPARTMENT:
     
  1. DISCUSSION ON 70/30 HOUSING POLICY AND IMPACT OF DIVISION AVE. FORM BASED CODE.
Economic Development Planner Lisa Golder reviewed her memorandum dated May 23, 2017, explaining City’s policy from 1980 and the classification of buildings with three or more units are considered rentals, compared with census data that lists all non-owner occupied units as rentals.  Because of the Division Avenue corridor and potential for rental space development with the adoption of form based code, Golder outlined options for the City’s 70/30 policy going forward.
 
Discussion on requests received to develop apartments in Kentwood; current Master Plan and zoning restrictions on density in place due to the 70/30 policy; unique challenges for development on Division Ave. and restrictions set as part of the proposed form based code; impact of apartment complexes on surrounding properties.
 
Consensus of Commissioners and Mayor that 70/30 policy should remain in place with Division Avenue/Form Based Code area excluded from those calculations.  Golder noted review of the Master Plan is beginning this year and the Commission’s direction on the 70/30 policy provides direction on how to proceed.  The Form Based Code public hearing will take place at the July 10, 2017 City Commission meeting.
 
MAYOR’S OFFICE:
 
  1. RECOMMEND APPROVAL OF A RESOLUTION TO EXEMPT THE CITY FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF PA 152 FOR THE NEXT SUCCEEDING MEDICAL BENEFIT PLAN COVERAGE YEAR.
    Mayor Kepley and Human Resources Director Gail Dewey reviewed their memorandum dated June 20, 2017 explaining the change to a level funding insurance plan as a first step toward a possible shift to self-funded health insurance.  A large number of municipalities with 100 or more employees are self-funded, and this interim step to level funding maintains our current health carrier and benefits for employees while reducing premiums but increasing exposure for the City.  The resolution to opt out of PA 152 is a safety measure for the City; although expenses are not projected to require the City to pay for more than 80% of healthcare costs (the limit set by the State for municipalities), adopting the resolution will keep the City in compliance regardless.
     
    The change to level funding will also allow the City access to more detailed data on employee healthcare costs to aid in future decisions, and any savings associated with the change can be used to start a health care fund to offset the additional exposure and prepare for the potential change to a self-insurance plan.
     
    Motion by Clanton, seconded by Haas to recommend the resolution to exempt the City from the requirements of PA 152 for the next succeeding medical benefit plan coverage year.
     
                                                                                        Motion Carried.
     
    There was no public comment.
     
    The meeting was adjourned at 7:01 P.M.
     
     
     
     
     
    Becky Schultz                                                             Michael Brown
    Deputy City Clerk                                                      Mayor Pro-Tem