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City Council grants enforcement power to new Code Enforcement Officer, passes ordinance on short-term rentals

Mountain Home’s City Council has passed an ordinance granting the city’s new code enforcement officer the power to enforce all of the rules, regulations, and codes passed within the city limits.

Mike Anderson, a former Las Vegas police officer, joins the Mountain Home community as its new code enforcement officer and will be undergoing training with the Mountain Home Police Department to become a certified part-time specialist law enforcement officer with the department.

Anderson is not currently a certified officer in Arkansas. The council’s ordinance grants him the power to enforce citations without the certification as he goes through training.

His training will take place over the next nine months, or roughly 130 hours. The new ordinance will also grant any new code enforcement officer the ability to do their job, even if they do not wish to complete the training needed to be a part-time officer.

“He was a Las Vegas police officer for three and a half years,” said Mountain Home Police Chief Eddie Griffin. “He probably saw more in that three and a half years than I saw on my 25. I’d say he’ll be all right.”

The City Council has passed a series of new ordinances to clean up neighborhoods throughout Mountain Home.

Many neighborhoods throughout the city have stand-out homes that have received numerous complaints throughout the years, some even spanning decades. Until this year, Mountain Home PD and the city have been unable to get various property owners to clean up their properties due to lax ordinances.

The city has even gone through the trouble of maintaining some properties by having work crews mow and maintain the yards. Those residencies are now receiving fines covering the city’s cost of maintenance.

These new ordinances range from fines over unmaintained yards filled with tall grass, weeds, and leaves to fines for rubbish and unsanitary conditions.

And while some residents, including members of the City Council, have raised concerns over potential abuse with the new ordinances, both Mayor Hillrey Adams and Police Chief Griffin have promised that the new ordinances will only target the worst offenders in the city.

They also emphasized that the city was willing to work with residents before issuing citations.

Short Term Rentals

Thursday night’s council session saw the city tackle one of its biggest outstanding ordinances regarding neighborhoods and short-term rentals. The ordinance, which has been tabled and reworked several times, has finally passed.

Under the new ordinance, short-term rental owners will now have to purchase a business license from the city before letting guests stay at the property.

The city has received several complaints throughout the year from residents complaining about the short-term rental properties and the guests that come to stay in their neighborhoods.

The ordinance defines short-term rentals as a dwelling unit, or portion thereof, that is offered or provided to a guest by a short-term rental owner or operator for a fee for fewer than thirty consecutive nights.

Vacation rentals have become popular over the last few years as city dwellers have flocked to the area to avoid COVID-19 restrictions and to vacation.

Under the city’s new rules, each rental must now comply with State, County, and municipal tax requirements and maintain a business license through the City of Mountain Home before operation. Those licenses will be published monthly by the city.

Rental operators must also provide 24-hour contact information to the city and must publish their business license number on all listings with third parties such as Airbnb, Flipkey, or VRBO.

Parking must be provided for all guests, and guests must comply with local noise and pet ordinances so as to not cause disturbances for adjacent landowners.

Before obtaining their license, rental operators must submit to a building and fire inspection by the city, including fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. Inspections will occur on an annual basis.

While the license’s initial cost was $100 per rental, the council opted to change the ordinance to $50 per rental. Fees are due at the beginning of each year.

The City of Mountain Home also reserves the right to pull a rental business license if valid complaints made by adjacent neighbors are not corrected within 30 days. Complaints must be made in written form with specifics of the issue, such as time and date. The complaint will be presented to City Council, which will determine whether it is valid or not.

Failure to respond or resolve a valid complaint will result in the loss of the business license. The business license will be revoked permanently if a rental receives three separate violations.

All renters must sign a rental contract with the property owner before staying at the residence. This contract will be made available to the City Council if complaints arise.

Violations of this ordinance can accrue fines ranging from $0 to $500 each day.

Other News

City Council modified the city’s ordinance around political signs, granting candidates more time to pick up their signs after the election. The original ordinance stipulated that candidates had three days after the election to pick up their signs. The modification now allows for five days, giving candidates a full weekend to pick up their signs.

Candidates are now responsible for collecting all of their signs.

The council also passed an ordinance amending its job classification program to replace its “Program Coordinator” with “Youth Center Program Coordinator” and “Recreation Program Coordinator.”

The city’s Youth Center coordinator has been pulling double duty, and the ordinance will relieve a portion of the workload.

The council also approved a resolution to adopt the Arkansas Diamond Plan for its employees. The Diamond Plan is a 457(b) deferred compensation plan and trust and acts like a traditional 401k for employees, except that employees receive no penalties if they retire early.

Lastly, the council approved the destruction of some old police department treadmills.

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