Saturday, June 07, 2008

Memo to the Windham Board of Selectmen

I was reading about this so called "landlord ordinance" and I thought to myself 'this was actually a good idea', but then I figured out the real reason. The proponents of this want more money out of us. There isn't any real problem that needs fixing, the problem is we don't pay enough in taxes. This is nothing more than a backdoor tax increase at time when we are facing a big front door tax increase in addition to what we got shoved down our throats last year.

So let me see if I got this straight. Say I am in the business of supplying housing to people who rent vs own their own home in Windham. I am not, but suppose I am for sake of argument. I am business person who pays taxes, delivers a needed service and I am told the town fathers think that such people are a good thing.

So why then do I need to be punished?

The town wants me to give to them my street address, assuming that is different than where you send my bill, my phone number, and even my email address...
-- and then it wants to fine me 25 bucks for complying with the law?

Why does it cost 25 dollars per person for the town to keep a calling list? What the town wants done can be done with a pencil and a two dollar note book. Almost all of the info they already have.

Then we get to the really big fines. I am unsure what crime we have committed in order to deserve the really big fines other than perhaps being unaware that the town wants landlords to give it 25 dollars for keying stuff into a computer which, again, in 95 percent of the cases is the info it already have on file!

Windham's Code Enforcement Director Matthew Vertefeuille told the newspaper these service-fines are set in state statute. The town's hands are bound. The town must fine every landlord 25 dollars each because it's in the statutes. We have to obey the statutes after all.

BUT WAIT! When the whole idea went over like a lead balloon at the public hearing, Mr. Vertefeuille says he will find a way to waive to fines. Well, which is it? Are the town's hands bound or aren't they? This is why I increasingly don't believe what government officials tell me.

I don't like double talk.

I would like to know exactly which statutes, that is the numbers and pages, say the state mandates these fines on landlords. Where is the authority to waive the fines? If the town has that authority than why didn't Mr. Verefeuille say so in the first place? I must point out that if we don't pass this ordinance we won't have to fine anyone for not signing up for this list.

I assume we are not talking about the big fines of course. Those won't be waived. Those fines are a "surcharge" (whatever that is) of 90 dollars, 250 dollars and an even cool Grand.

With 800 to 900 renters in town who will be forced to pay in addition to the taxes they already pay, regardless if the apartments are occupied, regardless of whether the renters are paying, 25 dollars each. Some of them will be victim of the big fines so we actually are talking about a fairly princely sum. Of course these fines will go up year after year as government fees tend to do. -- And Mr Vertefeuille says this is not meant to provide town revenue?

Oh and then we got the ten dollar fine if someone moves. Then when the property is sold that's another 25 dollars. Cha-Ching! Cha-Ching.

As I have said, I am not a landlord. I did however rent two apartments in Danielson and one in Willimantic and I can tell you that 90% of the problems tenants have are their own fault. Many people who rent vandalize the property, throw trash on the ground and contribute more than anyone else to blight. When they move out the paint is ruined and the carpets need to be replaced and lots of things are broken. I sympathize with the owners because I have seen first hand how shabby many tenants treat their property.

I would never go into that line of business. To many problems, to much taxes and to many headaches. This proposal is unnecessary and I urge it be forgotten. Landlords should not be singled out to pay more taxes than they do already.


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