Boonville City Council Members Disagree on Possible Housing Inspection

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BOONVILLE - Landlords could have their properties inspected before they lease them out to tenants. The Boonville City Council created a housing committee to determine if a system of inspections was needed in the community.

Mayor Julie Thacher said meetings started last November. Three councilmen, Mike Kelley, Ned Beach, and Kathleen Conway were assigned to the committee and appointed Mike Kelley as chair of the committee.

Building Inspector Steve Hage said he has received 15-20 complaints in a 5-year-span. Of those inspections, two of the houses were condemned. Hage said he responded to three complaints last year and received no complaints this month.

"We have a group of landlords where we receive most of the complaints. The majority of landlords have nice, decent properties," Hage said.

Hage said the current system allows him to respond to complaints made by tenants but said the city is in its researching stages to develop a system.

"We're researching other cities on what inspections they require. We're not sure yet if we need an annual or three year. It's too early to tell," Hage said.

Jim Edwards, a member of The Landlord Assocation in Boonville, said repairs after this possible inspection would take 12-13 working days for his properties. He said that would force him to increase rent to pay for the repairs.

"If they bring in an inspection, that's fine, but what will happen to those people with a low-rental income on a low budget? All of these costs will revert back to the tenant because it has to be profitable," Edwards said.

Edwards has been a landlord for more than 20 years and said he's never received a complaint. Edwards said he sees no purpose in changing the current system.

"The best thing to do is to leave things the way they are. Let the inspector do his job. When somebody calls and has a complaint, go out and inspect the whole property to make sure its safe," Edwards said.

Other council members such as Noah Heaton disagree with its priorities.

"We are contemplating cutting jobs in our departments and yet here we are creating new regulations that the city doesn't have the man power or resources to manage," Heaton said.

Heaton is also a landlord in Boonville. Heaton said his biggest concern is job creation. According to a 2009 study released from the University of Missouri University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UCIE), the city lost almost 16 percent jobs in the area. Heaton said there hasn't been much improvement since then.

"We should be creating jobs. We have had the Hostess bakery go under, Fuqua, Nordine cutting jobs when we're doing little to create more jobs. We are sort of outsourcing to a Moberly development corporation," Heaton said.

Mayor Thacher would not go on camera to talk about the inspections. Thacher could not say when this issue will be brought up in future meetings but she is waiting on the inspector's advice and the committee's feedback.

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