A motion passed, 4-1, at Parkesburg Borough's September meeting to adopt a resolution that sets a fee of $500 for appeals to the Rental Space Review Board.Solicitor John S. Carnes, Jr., said the fee goes into effect if someone takes an appeal of the borough's rental ordinance. Councilor Mel Keen added that it would also apply to someone appealing his or her interpretation of the property maintenance code.
"Five hundred dollars is customarily what we charge for these kinds of boards," Carnes said. "It is believed there will not be many appeals of this nature, but who's to say?"
"I intend to oppose this because I feel it's excessive," said Councilor Chuck Persch, who was responsible for the single opposing vote. (Keen abstained from voting because she owns rental properties in the borough. Councilor Virginia Miller was absent.)
Councilor Tom Curtin asked if the resident prevails in the appeal, would they be reimbursed, to which Carnes answered no.
Parkesburg Mayor John Hagan cautioned council to consider the level of the appeal. "It can be interpreted as punitive," he said. "I feel council is discouraging the appeal process by setting this fee."
"In terms of preparing for our part for an appeal," Council President David Jones said, "[it involves] process time from the solicitor, secretary, manager, and Arro Engineering. Many of those costs are in excess of $100 per hour," he said, suggesting that the $500 fee might not be adequate to cover the cost to the borough for such an appeal.
To this, Keen pointed out that the borough manager and secretary times are not billed the same way as those of the solicitor and engineer.
"I think it's a high fee," said Councilor Ken Knickerbocker, "but I've always been a proponent of covering our costs for services."
Noting the divergence in opinion across the board, Jones said, "We have put in several layers of remediation and time to try as much as possible to work with property owners to avoid the need to get to an appeal. From my standpoint," he said, "I think it's important to see that there is adequate compensation for the costs that go out."
This resolution will replace the one passed at the May 19 borough council meeting, which set the fee for appeals at $150