Urbana discusses new rent tax

By Rob Warren

The Urbana City Council met on Monday to discuss a resolution that would force landlords to pay a registration tax on all property they rent.

It mandates fines on renters who do not pay the new fees and, using the funds gathered from registration, includes hiring another inspector.

For Urbana, which currently has only one rental property inspector, this means doubling the inspection force.

“Governments regulate businesses to ensure the safety of the public,” said Joan Zagorski, Urbana resident.

“Electricians, plumbers, even beauticians are regulated. This program is a small price to pay to ensure tenants have a safe place to live,” she added.

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    Landlords were more reserved in their praise for the program.

    “I urge the city of Urbana to take caution,” said Sally Eissfeldt, president of the Central Illinois Apartment Association. “This document has undergone amendments, inclusions, exclusions. It has been so fluid and multi-purposed that it has been updated as recently as last week.”

    Eissfeldt said landlords would be more warm towards the legislation if it included a “sunset” clause, meaning that its enforcement and effectiveness would be reviewed within a year.

    Elizabeth Tyler, Community Development Director for the City of Urbana, said that the legislation, as with all new legislation, would be reviewed by staff members within a year regardless of such a clause.

    Illinois Student Senators Justin Cajindos, senior in LAS, and Sophie Doroba, junior in LAS, gave a resolution supporting the program to the council from the Illinois Student Senate.

    “We present to you a resolution in support of this issue,” Cajindos said. “University students are overwhelmingly in support of it.”

    Esther Patt, coordinator of the Tenant Union at the University, said that some renters were charging for the registration fee and then some, while still listing it as the city fee.