It was demonstrated during Tuesday night’s regular city council meeting that residential and commercial development over the past several years is still causing growing pains in Milford.


It was demonstrated during Tuesday night’s regular city council meeting that residential and commercial development over the past several years is still causing growing pains in Milford.

It was reported the city currently charges 156 landlords a $25 annual licensing fee to rent their properties, for a total of $3,900, and landlords can rent as many properties as they want for that one licensing charge.  It was also noted during the meeting that out of a possible 1,250 rental properties within our municipal limits, these 156 landlords represent only 350 units.

This fee structure is in stark contrast to rental licensing arrangements charged by other municipalities. For example, Millsboro charges $20 per rental unit and in Dover the fee can be as high as $90 per unit.

Milford’s current policy suggests two things: first, that individual rental properties should be licensed, not to the individual landlords and, second, a better accounting of Milford’s rental properties is needed.

There was also talk during the meeting of raising the per unit licensing fee to $50, which means if there are actually 1,250 rental units within Milford, the city will realize an additional $58,600 annually…the difference between 1,250 units at $50 per year ($62,500) and 156 landlords currently charged $25 per year ($3,900). 

In the grand scheme of Milford’s budget $58,600 might not seem like much, but it would help pay for an additional code enforcement officer each year. And, as we all know, every little bit counts these days, especially if Milford has to cover the cost of the reported 5.9 percent electric rate differential increase for city customers until their bills are adjusted to reflect the new charge.

If the city council opts to change the licensing structure we suspect landlords will argue against any new fees and/or allege the costs will be passed along to their tenants. However, we think an additional $4 or so each month at the proposed $50 per unit per year fee shouldn’t place an unbearable burden on Milford’s landlords, nor do we suspect the majority of renters will complain too loudly about a $4 per month rent increase.

And, this is not the first time Milford has needed to adjust the fees it charges.

During the housing construction boom three years ago, after the city had hired its first city engineer, it was determined that connection fees for water, sewer and electric service didn’t begin to cover the city’s costs. Granted, the city should fund a service that will continue to pay dividends over the long term, but the fee structure at the time was a bit off the mark.

For the most part Milford has met the challenges of controlling residential and commercial development with only a few growing pains.  And for that we are thankful.