The city is looking to increase smoke and carbon monoxide detector inspection fees by 28-percent, according to municipal records.
Under the revised fee schedule pending before the city council, the administration is seeking to hike all three inspection fees. Inspection fees with a lead time of less than four days would jump to $161 from $125. Inspections with lead time of 4-8 days would jump to $90 from $70. And inspections with lead time of more than 10 days would increase to $45 from $35.
Council members largely oppose the measure viewing it as a rapacious move by the government to further tax homeowners.
“I’m getting rather exhausted at raising fees on John Q public,” said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, earlier in the month.
Business administrator Nellie Pou appeared to suggest the fees had to be increased at the behest of the state.
“To be in compliance?” asked council president Ruby Cotton.
“Yes,” replied Pou.
“Where does it say that?” asked Morris.
The ordinance before the council states the city is seeking to align the municipal inspection fees for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to the same levels as recommended by the state.
“There’s no requirement we raise it,” remarked William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman.
The city has not raised its fees since 2004. The state has hiked the fees as recently as October, according to municipal officials. A property owner, who owns a one or two family dwelling, is required to pay the fire department to inspect for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors prior to selling or leasing.
Three or more family homes are inspected by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA).
“We have a difficult enough time getting people to buy homes in this city. I’m not inclined to add an additional fee if it’s not mandated,” remarked Morris. Indeed, Paterson’s real estate market is among the top ten worst in the United States. Home sales and price appreciation in Paterson have been in doldrums since the Great Recession.
The business administration pointed to the potential revenue the measure will bring in. She could not sway to the council to consider the measure for a vote this year. There were no projections provide to the council showing the total revenue the fee revisions will bring into municipal coffers.
Council members tabled the measure until next year.