Friday, June 15, 2007
KC loses appeal on fire inspection fees
Kansas City Business Journal
Kansas City's attempt to charge businesses and multifamily dwellings for fire inspections is unconstitutional, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled this week.
In a 3-0 decision Tuesday, the court affirmed a lower court's ruling that the city's ordinances to charge as much as $100 per inspection and certification of compliance violated Missouri's Hancock Amendment because they imposed fees without voters' approval.
Alan Holtkamp, assistant city attorney for Kansas City, said Friday that the city was unsure whether it would appeal the ruling.
The fire department continues to perform inspections, but they're paid for out of the city's general fund.
That's also how the inspections were paid for before 2003. At the time, city officials looked at ways to raise revenue to support the fire department's work and passed the ordinance to mandate the inspection fees.
The Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Kansas City filed a lawsuit against the city in 2004 in Jackson County Circuit Court.
While that case was pending, the city amended its ordinances to require a fire inspection with a fee of as much $100 or give building owners the option to have private engineers do the inspection and pay the city $10 for an inspection certificate.
The circuit court ruled in favor of the BOMA and ordered the city to repay all fees collected under the ordinances.
BOMA President Scott Du Vall couldn't be reached for comment.