City council continues ‘better landlord’ discussion

EAST LIVERPOOL – With more questions than answers raised Monday night, city council tabled two ordinances aimed at establishing “better landlord” regulations.

Sherwood Avenue resident Brian Kerr got the ball rolling by questioning whether or not rental license regulations are enforced if a person’s relative is living in a rental property, saying he was advised by planning Director Bill Cowan they are not.

He suggested that “any landlord could come up with a land contract and get out of the rental license.”

Linda Zeigler, Ohio Avenue, encouraged council to vote against both ordinances but said, barring that, to at least change the name of the program to something “less aggressive” than “Better Landlord.”

Jean Diddle Perkins and Marion Perkins, who own a total of eight rentals in the city but live in Liverpool Township, said they are not anti-East Liverpool, outlining a list of donations they make to the city and agreeing that “slumlords are a problem.”

Mrs. Perkins noted that the city housing inspector is required to publish an annual report of housing conditions, accomplishments of the inspections and recommendations for the future and said she could “only assume” each council member had received a copy of the report and could answer several questions, such as how many rental properties exist in the city, how many licenses have been issued, inspections made, properties not in compliance and penalties issued, suggesting the existing rental property ordinance is sufficient if properly enforced.

Elson Street resident Donald Jones also questioned the fees the city is paying to Better City LLC, saying the money would be better spent on police, fire and streets, saying, “This outfit has found a cash cow in the city and is milking it for everything it can get out of it.”

Responding to the comments, Councilman Ray Perorazio said that, while wholeheartedly in favor of the landlord ordinances, “a couple things don’t stack up,” and moved to table them until more meetings can be held and more comment given by landlords.

His motion was passed 4-3, with council member Sherrie Curtis, Ryan Stovall and Tom Cunningham opposed.

When council President John Torma said he would arrange with Councilman Ryan Stovall, whose committee has spearheaded the landlord legislation, for additional committee meetings, Stovall advised, “I will not be calling (a committee meeting). It’s been (discussed) since October. The people of East Liverpool have been done an injustice.”

Torma then called a public meeting for 5 p.m. June 2 in council chambers for discussion on the issue.

Perorazio cautioned those present, “If you’re just waiting for me to kill this thing, don’t come to the meeting, because I’m not going to do it.”