An amendment to a recently passed law will remove the prorated registration fee for vacant or abandoned properties and charge the full annual fee – regardless of when a property is registered.
A previous version of the law – ordinance 2499 (link) – was passed in June. It had prorated the initial registration fee of $500 based on the month that a property was registered.
At the October 19th Mayor & Council meeting, when the proposed law was brought up as a workshop discussion, Third Ward Councilman William Fahoury reasoned, “What we want to do is eliminate prorating because . . . it’s a hassle for the clerk’s office [and] for the finance office to have these [fees] prorated and essentially having them prorated, we’re also losing money.”
The councilman provided a comparison in fees collected for this year. If registration fees were prorated, the amount collected would have been $2,333.35. If the complete $500 fee were collected for each of the registered properties, it would be $6,500. The councilman added that other fees are not prorated. He added, “I thought we had no prorating in the orignal ordinance but I guess we missed it so I apologize for that.”
Borough Clerk Andrew Casais provided information on the logistics of collecting prorated fees. He stated that if his office is notified of a property in the middle of the month, the law provides a 30-day window in which a property owner has to register. Mr. Casais said, “There’s a little bit of confusion, frankly on both sides [as to] what amount is then levied . . . It creates a little bit of a grey area that I’m not totally comfortable with. I know I’ve spoken to Ken [Blum] in the finance office and I don’t think either of us are very comfortable with the way that could go down.”
Councilman Fahoury remarked, “The money collected is not from residents . . . it’s from banks. It’s from the people kicking out the homeowners from their homes because they’re not paying their mortgage . . . whatever the reason is. I don’t lose sleep at night going after banks.”
Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey added to the conversation, saying, “Anything that would encourage them to get these houses on the market, I think is a very positive thing.”
“The reason why we have it in the first place is because they’re sitting on these properties and it’s unacceptable,” concluded Councilman Fahoury.
The public hearing and vote by council on Ordinance 2508 is scheduled for Thursday night, November 16th. at the Roselle Park Municipal Complex located at 110 East Westfield Avenue. The meeting is set to start at 7 p.m.
A copy of the ordinance is available below:
Download RP Ordinance 2508