A sign code question appears on the agenda for the Wednesday night meeting of the Oro Valley Town Council.
The matter at hand pertains to real estate agents placing open house signs in the public right of way. As the law stands now, companies have to pay $1,000 per year to display the signs.
Councilman Al Kunisch wants the town to modify the fee, possibly introducing a range of fees aimed at lessening the burden on smaller agents.
Kunisch said "$1,000 per year is a lot of money to put up signs." He prefers a proposal to have sliding scale based on the number of agents working at an office. "I think the sliding scale is fair," Kunisch said.
The council has two sliding-scale options presented to it for the Jan. 6 meeting. One would provide no savings to the town; the other would pay the entire costs associated with current enforcement efforts.
The first option would require real estate firms with one to 10 agents to pay $100 for an annual fee. Firms with 11 to 25 agents would pay $250 for the year. Offices with 26 to 50 would pay $500, and those with more than 50 would pay $1,000.
That option would bring in an estimated $11,500 in fees, but still cost the town $19,500, according to town estimates. The cost of enforcement is estimated at $31,000 per year.
Town zoning officials note in the meeting packet that fluctuations in the number of agents working for firms could complicate fee collection.
Another option would be to charge firms with up to 10 agents $270 per year. Firms with 11 to 25 agents would pay $675, while those with 26 to 50 would pay $1,350. Companies with more than 50 agents would be required to pay $2,700 per year.
Town officials estimate this option would cover 100 percent of the $31,000 enforcement costs, but say the option could become cost prohibitive and have the financially negative effect of companies simply not applying for permits.
The council could decide to not change the fee structure at all. Under that option, the town would collect $14,000 in fees, leaving a $17,000 gap.
Real estate industry group the Tucson Association of Realtors has been at the table with Oro Valley officials to come up with a solution that both parties can live with.
"What we've been discussing with them is that the $1,000-per-Realtor per sign was a little excessive," said Colin Zimmerman with the Tucson Association of Realtors.
Zimmerman said most of the group's members were supportive of the fee changes.
"Having open house signs is an important marketing tool," he said.
Despite the fees, Oro Valley remains the only Southern Arizona jurisdiction to allow open house signs in the public right of way. Oro Valley and Sahuarita are the only communities in the county to not charge to put "for sale" signs on private property.
Kunsich requested the council review the item independent of a comprehensive town sign code revision planned for later this year. The revisions would change all sign regulations throughout the town, from commercial signs to lighting issues.
"I brought it back because that might not get done until next August or September," Kunisch said of the comprehensive sign review. "I hope that the council will go ahead with the recommendation."
In other business, the council plans to discuss a possible time frame for management reviews of the Oro Valley Police Department and Parks and Recreation Department.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6 at Oro Valley Town Hall, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive.