Schenectady County

Schenectady Council eyes safety fee

City officials are working on a new fee for safety inspections at bars, hotels and other public gath

City officials are working on a new fee for safety inspections at bars, hotels and other public gathering places.

The fees are to cover the costs of the required inspections, which currently take up about a third of an inspector’s time annually, assistant city corporation counsel Frank Salamone told a City Council committee Monday evening.

The inspections are mandated by the state and have been ongoing for years, Salamone said. Other municipalities charge for the inspections, but Schenectady hasn’t.

The fees would range from $75 to $250 per inspection, based on the size of the place being inspected. Sites larger than 10,000 square feet would be charged the $250 fee.

In all, the fee could generate between $10,000 and $15,000 in revenue to help offset the cost of the inspections, Salamone said.

Around the city, about 200 locations require the inspections, according to building inspector Eric Shilling.

The target of the inspections are “life-safety systems,” he said, and the things examined include sprinkler systems, elevators and exit signs.

“It’s basically all life-safety systems,” Shilling said after Monday night’s meeting. “If you go into a space and something happens, you’ll be able to get out.”

The inspections are part of an ongoing effort to make the city safer, something that could bring down insurance costs, Mayor Gary McCarthy said.

“It doesn’t happen quickly, but it’s a long-term trend and we’re laying the groundwork for those things to happen,” he said.

The council could vote on the plan as early as next week.

other business

Also Monday night, committee members directed McCarthy to look into city park space in Mont Pleasant to see if cricket could be played there, in addition to at the current cricket field in Grout Park.

Cricket players are asking for the extra space, saying the current location can’t accommodate three leagues and that more space is needed.

One question that must be answered is whether the city space in Mont Pleasant is enough, or whether the school district would have to get involved, as it owns adjoining land.

The committee also discussed keeping committee action on the sale of homes seized for unpaid taxes in committee until just before the regular council meetings, instead of moving them out the week before.

This would avoid a situation where a group of bids are submitted and thus become public information once they are moved from the committee to the council, giving new bidders time to submit bids with an unfair advantage over the first group of bidders.

The new system would still allow additional time to submit bids — almost up to the point of sale — but keep the previous bids secret until the end.

“We’re getting multiple offers, and it’s creating a level of interest and buzz here that we’re all pleased with,” McCarthy said.

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