For the first time in seven years, Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board might raise the annual fees it assess landlords to register their units.
Currently set at $156, the yearly fees could be raised $24-36 per unit to help overcome the agency's budget deficit. Property owners are required to pay the annual registration fee for every unit subject to Santa Monica's rent control law.
Unlike most cities with rent control, in Santa Monica, the landlords are able to pass 100 percent of the fees onto tenants.
The fees, last increased in 2006, are the agency's primary funding source.
The board will have to decide whether to raise the fees by July 1, when the new fiscal year starts. It's facing a budget deficit of about $350,000.
Chairman William Winslow said a lion's share of growing expenditures the past few years are due to "staggering" increases in health insurance costs for employees.
"We have a revenue problem," board member Todd Flora said. But he has also asked staffers to "scrub" the budget to come up with more savings.
There is enough money in reserves to fill the budget gap, but Administrator Tracy Condon has said tapping those funds would drain the account to below what's required to meet the city's recommended budgeting standard. (The city's finance department recommends keeping reserves at 10 percent of the year’s budget plus funds to cover staffers' accrued but unused paid time off.)
The board might also consider changing the apportionment between tenants and landlords. The chart to the right of this article shows registration fees charged by the seven other rent control agencies in California, the number of units in that jurisdiction and how much of the fees are charged to tenants.
"The apportionments in the other jurisdictions vary, but in no case do the tenants pay more than 50 percent," Condon wrote in an email to Patch. "The Board could elect to apportion in a number of different ways."
She said will present some of those options to the board at its April 11 meeting.