Mequon - Property owners within Mequon no longer have to pay an annual $25 sign permit fee, following action by the Common Council on Tuesday.
The decision comes on the heels of a review by several appointed committees. This week, members of the Plan Commission and Common Council took up the fee elimination and agreed to have it removed from the city's books.
The city is losing $17,500 in revenue as a result of the decision; however, council members did not deem it fair to force permit holders to pay a fee when they don't actually receive a service as a result. The $100 price tag to acquire a sign permit will remain.
Businesses and subdivisions are the common permit holders for the signs. Alderman John Wirth said charging the annual fee to people who are already in compliance with an ordinance is also "kind of a slap in the face to some of our best taxpayers."
"This is a way to get money out of someone's pocket. They are not asking to be policed, they are in compliance, they are doing what they are supposed to do," he said.
Though he voted to approve the change, Alderman Dale Mayr was concerned about funding enforcement of the sign ordinance.
"How will we be paying the individual who does this on an annual basis? Which is why this was set up in the first place," he said.
City staff had the same concern about the gap in a revenue resource; however, the ordinance will not take effect until the following year giving staff time to work through the budget issue in collaboration with the Finance and Personnel Committee, Director of Community Development Kim Tollefson said.
The city's code enforcement officer works part time and has a variety of duties. In addition to following up on violations of the sign code, the officer keeps track of violations of the zoning code, as well as oversees general maintenance of properties in the city.
The Common Council next plans to address the issue of the annual burning fee, saying there is not a service provided with this fee either.
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