BELLEVILLE — After six months of meetings, a task force set up to chase crime from city rental housing unveiled a set of get-tough proposals Thursday night at City Hall.
The proposals include the assessment of a special $25 annual fee on each rental unit, providing as much as $250,000 annually to pay for a city police officer and support staff dedicated to booting criminals out of rental units.
Task force member and landlord Kevin Bouse spoke favorably of the $25 assessment, saying it will provide landlords another set of eyes on properties, while improving the quality of tenants.
"This is the best $25," he said. "It's $2.07 a month. I'm pretty excited about that."
But several landlords spoke out against the measures, contending they are being pushed forward too fast.
Landlord Lee Griffin, who is black, noted that no people of color sit on the task force, which consists of four white men and one white woman.
"I think you guys are moving too hastily on this, and you need your ducks in a row," Griffin said.
Ward 1 Alderman Ken Kinsella, the task force chairman, said the measures will next go for review by the City Council Health and Housing Committee, set for April 3, followed by a joint meeting set of the task force and the council Ordinance Committee, set for April 11. The public may comment at both meetings, Kinsella said.
Barring unforeseen delays, the crime-free measures could go to the full City Council for a possible vote on whether to convert them into law later in late April, Kinsella said.
"We'll probably not get through it all in one meeting simply because it's very complicated," he said. "We're not pushing it through."
Several people who spoke up at the two-hour hearing raised concerns that the task force was moving too quickly or was contemplating language that was too broad.
Ward 4 Alderman Tim Carpenter noted that tenants could be removed after unspecified criminal activity, including white collar crime.
"How are you going to enforce that?" Carpenter said. "That's almost impossible."
John Masur, another landlord who sits on the crime-free task force, acknowledged the measures will put landlords' "feet to the fire a little bit. And there's expense involved. But by these provisions we put in there, everybody's feet will be put to the fire, and I do believe it will work."