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Overhead expenses

TIFFIN– Tiffin resident and Clear Creek Amana School Board of Directors president Eileen Schmidt has the $50 question.
She attended the July 11 regular meeting to ask the Tiffin City Council why the city has an ordinance requiring a $50 fee to be paid in order for the owner of a single family dwelling to re-shingle his roof.
“Why do we need a permit when it’s an existing structure that we need to maintain?” Schmidt asked. She said she’d checked with North Liberty, Solon, Coralville and Iowa City, and none of those cities had such a requirement. North Liberty requires a permit for re-roofing a commercial business, Schmidt noted, but none for a home owner. “Why are we taxing our citizens here in the City of Tiffin when they are just trying to improve their structure?”
“I think you made a very good point,” said Mayor Steve Berner. “I kind of agree people should be able to maintain their property the way that they want.” Councilor Peggy Upton asked if this had come from the Planning and Zoning Committee.
“Not when I was on it,” Berner replied. City Attorney Steve Greenleaf wondered if the fee was part of the International Building Code (IBC). “Or is this something we cooked up ourselves?” Greenleaf asked.
Discussion of possibly doing away with the fee ensued, based on the practices of the surrounding communities. Ryan asked if an inspection of the work was required, and Tiffin City Administrator Michon Jackson said it was. Ryan suggested perhaps the fee offset the cost of the inspection.
Schmidt interjected. “It’s an existing structure,” she said. According to Jackson, under current code, the project would still have to be inspected.
Upton said she wants to review the ordinance, while Berner said Schmidt was not the first person to question the code.
“I’ve had other people complain about building permits for maintenance on their own property,” Berner said. Greenleaf advised examining the ordinance and looking for council’s discretion to possibly remove the fee.
“You have our sympathy,” Ryan told Schmidt. “Is your roof leaking?”
“I need to re-shingle it. I’m not giving fifty dollars for a permit, I think that’s…I’m maintaining a structure as a resident of the City of Tiffin. I am maintaining my property. I think every resident should do that.”
“I absolutely agree with you,” Ryan said. “I’m just asking, do you have to get it done today? I don’t think we can change the law as quickly as that, so if you can afford us some time, we will look into it and try to help.”
Council member Chris Ball made the analogy of a homeowner having to pay the city $50 to repair a broken piece of siding. “Really?” Ball asked. “You have to pay fifty bucks to fix your house?”
Berner asked for and was granted a consensus to have Jackson research the ordinance.