ST. LOUIS – The City of Bellefontaine Neighbors is forcing landlords to pay a new $300 annual fee if they own rental property within the city.

Alexis Eldredge is a landlord with a partner. Together, they own 16 properties in the city, and they say it will cost them thousands of dollars.

“It’s just a money grab; it’s just a collection of money to enforce ordinances that are already enforced by the police department,” Eldredge said.

According to the ordinance, the program will “collect current and accurate information in identifying existing properties, owners, landlords, and managing agents in the city…This information shall be used by the police department and the department of public works to perform their respective duties.”

But Eldredge says they already pay a $75 fee to the city to do that, and the city gets $40 from occupancy permits from landlords. She says the ordinance was influenced by Florissant, but Bellefontaine is charging a lot more.

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“It’s 600 times Florissant’s, which is where they copied the verbiage for the ordinance, it’s copied and pasted from the city of Florissant,” she said.

According to Eldredge, Florissant’s fee is $50. Other municipalities, such as Bridgeton, Crestwood, Hazelwood, Jennings, Ladue, and Olivette, do not have such fees. The highest rate was in Berkeley at $150, which is still half of what Bellefontaine Neighbors is putting to landlords.

“There are over 1,500 rental properties in this community so that’s amounting to almost half a million dollars every year,” Eldredge said. “Where is $480,000 going in the city of Bellefontaine?”

FOX 2 reached out to the city’s mayor, Dina Tatma, who said the case is subject of litigation and that she cannot comment. However, Tatma said that one landlord is threatening to sue the city, but the program isn’t a money grab.

She recommended speaking with the alderwoman, who had no comment to provide to FOX 2, and referred us to the city’s attorney, who was unavailable.

“The fees are going to get passed down to the renters and we have made a sincere effort to get good people, hard-working people, into these homes and we’ve kept our rent lower than the standard in the area,” Eldredge said.