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Published: Friday, 9/1/2006

Schulz seeks to end fire inspection fees

Schulz Schulz
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Toledo City Council candidate David Schulz has called for eliminating fire inspection fees and for a moratorium on new fees that affect small business.

Mr. Schulz, the endorsed Republican in the race for an at-large council seat on the Nov. 7 ballot, said a proposed increase in fire inspection fees is a major irritant to business owners he has met during the campaign.

But one of his opponents said the fee is a fair price for fire inspectors time.

The city s fire prevention bureau submitted a proposed ordinance in May to set fire inspection fees at $40 an hour, replacing a fee schedule that was based on location.

Fire officials said charging fees by location was unfair because a large inspection that took days cost the same as a small inspection that would take one hour.

A fire department spokesman said the fee already has been implemented, even though the ordinance did not pass.

Clerk of Council Gerald Dendinger said city departments are authorized to set fees without council approval.

The stated rationale for these fees was that other cities are charging them so we should as well. We should attempt to be different from other cities and roll back our fees, Mr. Schulz said.

Councilman Lourdes Santiago, the endorsed Democrat running for the at-large seat, rejected his proposal. She said it costs the city money to inspect buildings for compliance with fire codes, and it s legitimate for the city to recover those costs.

Bob Vasquez, an unendorsed Democratic candidate for the at-large seat, did not endorse Mr. Schulz s plan, but said, if we keep coming up with additional fees, we are not being business-friendly.

Joe McNamara, also an unendorsed Democratic candidate for the seat, said he would not support eliminating the fee unless the revenue could be replaced by another source.

In 2004, council authorized the fire department to implement a new fee for responding to accident scenes, to be charged to motorists insurers.

Mr. Schulz said he is conducting an online business survey that can be accessed at www.davidschulz.com. Mr. Schulz said he would release the results of the survey later in the fall.



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