SALEM - City council kicked off the new year Tuesday with new faces, new committee appointments and a new fund for housing inspectors.
City Auditor Betty Brothers explained the special revenue fund will be used for the annual housing occupancy fee and related fees, which were increased effective Jan. 1, this way the fees will be shown as going directly into the housing inspection operation instead of mixing with the general fund.
Council approved an ordinance to establish the new fund. Last month, council voted to increase the annual housing occupancy fee charged to owners of rental units from $15 per unit to $30 per unit.
In addition, the fee for boarding houses was increased from $15 to $30 per year, the penalty for nonpayment of the housing occupancy fee was increased from $30 to $60, the penalty for failing to allow an inspection increased from $50 to $100 and the penalty for each subsequent violation increased from $100 to $200.
New Council President K. Bret Apple opened the meeting with re-organizational items, reappointing Debbie Bricker as council clerk, adopting council rules, approving Councilman Brian Whitehill as clerk pro-tem and Councilman Dave Nestic as president pro-tem.
As one of his first duties, Apple had to compile the new list of standing committees for city council, shuffling some of the chairmanships and committee assignments around since his name had to be removed and new Councilman Roy Paparodis had to be added.
As a councilman, Apple chaired the Finance Committee. He selected Councilman Jeff Cushman as the new chairman, keeping Nestic and Whitehill as committee members.
For the Utilities Committee, which Cushman used to chair, Apple selected Councilman Clyde Brown as the new chairman, joined by Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey and Nestic.
Dickey and Councilman Rick Drummond switched chairs, with Dickey now heading up the Rules and Ordinances Committee and Drummond leading the Parks & Recreation Committee. Brown and Drummond will remain on Rules and Cushman and Paparodis will serve on Parks.
Paparodis will serve as chairman of the Streets, Alleys and Sidewalks Committee, which used to be led by Brown, with Brown and Cushman also on the committee. Whitehill will remain as chairman of the Traffic & Safety Committee, joined by Dickey and Paparodis.
Nestic will remain chairman of the Economic Development Committee, with Drummond and Whitehill as members. As president protem, Nestic will also remain as chairman of the Committee of the Whole, which includes all seven council members.
The list of council liaisons includes: Cushman, schools; Brown, Perry Township; Drummond, Tourism Board; Whitehill, Shade Tree Commission; Nestic, Salem Area Industrial Development Corporation; Dickey, Design Review Board; and Paparodis, Historical/Preservation Society.
"This is going to be a productive year. We'll continue to head in the right direction," Apple said. "I'm looking forward to working with everybody."
New Treasurer John Conrad gave his first income tax report, telling council that income tax receipts for 2013 exceeded the previous year by $218,376 for an increase of 5.05 percent and total income tax receipts for 2013 at $4,539,680. With information from Income Tax Administrator Fred Pamer, he pointed out that part of the receipts from 2013 included $32,966 from the tax amnesty program that was offered in the fall of 2012. The program brought in $74,332 in 2012, for a total of $107,298 over two years.
Mayor John Berlin announced several appointments and reappointments during his report, some which had to be confirmed by council (with the exception of the Parks Commission). The list included: Terry Hoopes, reappointed to Parks Commission, three-year term; Margaret Winch and Meta Cramer, reappointed to Design Review Board, three-year terms; Mike Mancuso appointed to Design Review Board, three-year term; Tim Baillie, reappointed to Board of Zoning Appeals, four-year term; and Dan Bricker, appointed to fill unexpired term of Robert Merry on Board of Zoning Appeals, term expires May 31, 2016. Merry was appointed last month to the Planning Commission.
Council reappointed attorney Bruce Williams to a three-year term on the Income Tax Review Board based on Conrad's recommendation.
Berlin said positions are available on the Board of Housing Appeals. Anyone interested in serving should contact him at city hall for details about the duties.
He'll be delivering his State of the City report at the next council meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 21.