The Village of Oak Park wants to quadruple one of its fees this year, but it’s not your everyday fee.
Officials are looking to raise the multifamily licensing fee, which apartment building owners pay per unit for inspections every two years (one third of a building at a time). If approved, the charge would jump from $5 to $20.
The fee has remained flat since it was first implemented in the 1970s, and Oak Park is raising it to cover the cost of inspections. The village performs about 19,000 inspections a year-3,200 in multifamily buildings.
The Building Owners and Managers Association of Oak Park is opposed to the fee increase, and several members spoke out against it at village board meeting last week. In a letter to trustees, BOMA said an extra $15 doesn’t seem like much, but adds up when piled on top of other fees and taxes in Oak Park.
BOMA says the fee hike puts an “unfair burden” on large building owners and those who take care of their buildings. Someone who owns a building with 50 units should pay less per unit than one with five units, they argue.
“We are in a real estate recession,” BOMA President Owen Dowling told trustees. “You can’t just raise our rates to cover costs. It’s too simple; it can’t be done.”
Building owner Patricia O’Connor said the fee increase hurts all the more when you’re barely breaking even.
“It’s becoming impossible to make money in Oak Park,” she said. “It’s just one more nail in the coffin.”
Trustees tabled the fee increase until a future meeting, asking for comparisons to other communities and to give more time to communicate the increase.
“From what I’ve seen, it seems like a fair increase, and I’m not sure we’ve disseminated that,” said Trustee Jon Hale.
“To me, this is just catch-up,” said Trustee Colette Lueck. “We’re bringing this fee to where it should have been a long time ago.”