BERRIEN SPRINGS — Three months into Oronoko Township’s new rental housing inspection program, over 300 rental units have been inspected and two permits have been revoked due to property conditions.
Township Supervisor Mike Hildebrand gave the update at this week’s township board meeting. The board adopted the Rental Safety Verification Program in June and set an Aug. 30 deadline for people to register their rental properties.
An early December report from inspector Justin Turner noted that 305 units out of over 800 registered have been inspected. He said two permits will be revoked because proper egress is not available for the rental unit in one case and the basement is not up to code in another.
Turner reported that inspections done have resulted in 38 carbon dioxide detectors and 34 smoke detectors added, eight basement egress windows added, eight emergency exit lights and signs repaired and four address signs added.
“It looks like we’ve accomplished what we wanted,” Hildebrand said. “The word on the street is that the program has been well-accepted.”
He said the township included a letter reminding rental property owners to register in the winter tax bills sent out earlier this month. “We did that so there is no question that the program exists and that registrations are past due.”
As Hildebrand noted when the program was first proposed in the spring, the goals are renter and firefighter safety, cosmetic and curb appeal and maintaining property values. Township officials have estimated that there are 1,000 or more short- and long-term rentals in the township.
In other business at this week’s meeting, board members voted to continue to opt out of the state public health insurance contribution act. The 2011 law gives public entities three options when it comes to providing health insurance for employees: limit their contributions to a hard cap, pay 80 percent of the costs or opt out.
Hildebrand also announced the retirement of bookkeeper Trudy Bartz. Bartz expects to retire at the end of March and the township will be advertising the part-time position in coming weeks.
Board members approved giving each township employee a $100 year-end gift. A total of 19 employees will get the bonus.
The 2020 meeting schedule was approved. The board will meet on the second Tuesday of each month except for March, when the meeting will be Thursday, March 12, because of the March election that Tuesday. Board meetings start at 7 p.m. at the township hall on Snow Road.
Year-end appointments to township boards were approved. Jeff Lemon and Andrew von Maur were appointed to new three-year terms on the planning commission, Robert Pagel to a new three-year term on the zoning board of appeals and Jason Ewalt to a new two-year term on the Greater Berrien Springs Recreation Department board.