AURORA – Codified ordinance chapters dealing with property maintenance standards and rental housing registration procedures were approved by City Council at its Feb. 10 meeting. Both were OK’d 7-0, with Council members Dennis Kovach and Amy Eckard absent.

The rental registry chapter requires owners of most rental properties to register, with immediate family members (parents, children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren) who rent from their blood relatives being exempt from registering and paying the fees.

"Rental" is defined as a residence occupied for 30 or more days by someone other than the owner. A new rental unit owner must pay $25 per unit, up to a total of $1,000, and the permit must be renewed every three years at the same fee.

The new maintenance standards require property owners to maintain their land, homes and buildings in good condition, thus preserving the integrity of neighborhoods and not causing property values to decline.

The new chapter addresses structural soundness of buildings, exterior walls, painting, landscaping, rubbish issues and infestation of insects and nuisance animals.

If violations occur, the code gives the city the authority to deal with the problems, with the property owner responsible for the cost. Owners who do not pay their obligations within 90 days are subject to having the costs assessed with their property taxes. They also could be subject to minor misdemeanor charges.

"This proposal is much simpler [than one rejected a few years ago]," said Ward 1’s Jim Vaca. "I think it can take care of problems quicker without interfering with residents’ property rights. Enforcement is the key. We have some property fixup ordinances on the books now, but we don’t enforce them."

Other business

Council granted a 100%, 15-year real estate tax abatement to Auburn Land Co./Robeck Fluid Power Co. so operations at 350 Lena Drive can be expanded.

Robeck plans to add 15,000 square feet for manufacturing and warehousing, with the investment estimated to cost $1 million. City Finance Director Tim Clymer estimates the abatement will save the company about $288,298 in real estate taxes over the 15 years.

Council OK’d the purchase of a 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe from Ganley Chevrolet for use by the police department at a cost of $36,276, minus $8,500 for the trade-in of a 2012 Tahoe (resulting in a net payment of $27,776). The vehicle will be used by the canine officer and its handler.

At the committee of the whole session, Council discussed an agreement with Neighborhood Development Services to administer the Revolving Loan Fund Home Repair Program.

It replaces the Community Home Improvement Program, and offers interest-free loans of up to $10,000 for low-income residents who wish to make repairs to their homes. The city has $185,634 available in the fund.

The agreement will appear on Council’s Feb. 24 meeting agenda.

Council also discussed changing some of its rules relating to deadlines for meeting agendas and limits on citizen comments at Council sessions. The new rules will be drafted by the law department and bought to a future meeting for approval.

Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin announced she has been named president of the Mayors Association of Portage, Stark and Summit Counties. Mayors from all three counties meet monthly to discuss issues of common concern. They also work with the Ohio Municipal League to lobby for state legislation impacting local communities.

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