Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) endorses the proposed amendments to the Omaha Municipal Code that would authorize fee increases for code violation re-inspections.
OTOC believes the increases are important to protect the quality of housing in Omaha, especially in our older neighborhoods. Some renters with families have endured unhealthy and unsafe conditions and have been wrongfully threatened with eviction after they complained to city authorities.
The Code Enforcement Office receives about 100 complaints per month and has a backlog of more than 4,000 code violation cases dating back to 2003. Its data show that 70 percent of the open-code violation cases are in rental properties, with the rest in owner-occupied properties. At least one landlord has 50 violations across multiple properties.
The Planning Department proposes that code violation fees be incrementally raised from $41 to $125 over the next two years. The new amount is closer to the city's actual cost of re-inspections.
Besides, the higher fees will show up on owners' credit reports, increasing incentives to actually pay the fees when they are charged and to deal with problems that otherwise would slide by.
The time is right for taxpayers to stop subsidizing negligent property owners.
Gloria Austerberry, Omaha
OTOC Housing Action Team