Brainerd City Council: Landlords to get annual resource letter
Landlords will now get a letter each year, detailing resources available and what city ordinance requires of them and their tenants. At a Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group agreed to start sending out the letters each year. They'll b...
Landlords will now get a letter each year, detailing resources available and what city ordinance requires of them and their tenants.
At a Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group agreed to start sending out the letters each year. They'll be included in the mailing of the April notice, sent when it's time to reapply for their license.
As new landlords go to City Hall in person to apply throughout the year, the letter can be handed out, as well as other resources, the council agreed.
The new letter is an effort to connect the landlords (and tenants) to the resources the city offers.
"We're trying to have an extra step of communication between landlords and the city," said city council member Mary Koep, who drafted a sample letter and brought the idea before the group. "None of us wants to see a repeat of what happened (referring to the Jan. 4 double shooting on Juniper Street). This won't prevent it. But we can do what we can do to prevent it."
Koep said there's never been a "hands-on feeling" between the city and the landlords.
"At the minimum, when they apply for a permit, they should get a letter from us," she said.
A landlord herself, Koep said she feels the city is "less than friendly" when it comes to dealing with landlords.
City council member Dave Pritschet added the effort would open communication between the city and landlords.
In the sample writing by Koep, the letter thanks the landlord for providing rental housing. It will include a list of phone numbers (police, fire department, housing inspector, city administrator, Brainerd Public Utilities), and ordinances for rental properties.
It also suggests landlords include in rental agreements a section regarding drugs or illegal activity, warning tenants of a zero-tolerance attitude.
City staff will rework the letter before it's sent out in the April mailing.
In other city council news:
Designated council member Chip Borkenhagen to head an effort exploring what changes the city's website needs, as well as provide and gather input on what others want to see on it. Revamping the city's website is one of the council's strategic initiatives, but the money and staff time needed are bringing the move to a halt.
Borkenhagen said the current site "sucks and it really needs substantial work."
He added that tasking the city's information technology department to make changes in their spare time is a bad idea, because they have none.
City council member Gabe Johnson agreed the site needs to be more user-friendly.
Another strategic initiative, getting the capability to accept credit and debit cards, is still being explored. In the recently approved budget, $5,000 was cut to get that moving. Now, staff is exploring what else they can do to accept plastic forms of payment, said finance director Connie Hillman.
Discussed council members receiving per diems for the committees they are appointed on to be a liaison.
Two city committees pay a per diem: Region Five ($50 per meeting) and the Housing Redevelopment Authority (HRA) ($75 per meeting). All other committees offer none.
Koep argued that taking the per diem is wrong. She continued, suggesting that since other committees don't offer per diems, it's unfair for council members to accept them.
She suggested those on the Region Five or HRA committees either turn the money down or the council should take turns in the positions.
Pritschet said people don't take the positions for the per diems and often the positions come with more work than other committees.
Johnson added rotating the committees among council members could backfire, as the spot can benefit from the same person with vast knowledge of issues.
No motion came out of the discussion.
Link to the Feb. 2 Brainerd city council meeting packet: http://www.ci.brainerd.mn.us/citycouncil/packets/2015/20150202_CC.pdf
JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews .