County commissioners approved new regulations governing short-term rental units in October with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2021. That timeframe might have been a bit optimistic, according to county officials.

The county finance committee will consider today whether to recommend the county commission push the date back to April 1, 2021.

At issue is compliance and enforcement.

“It’s going to be a complex new ordinance to administer, and all along we’ve been talking about outside third-party outsourcing of the administrative issue,” said commissioner Peter Murphy, the most vocal proponent of the regulations. “It’s a little complicated to be done in-house.”

The county hired Host Compliance, which creates plans for short-term rental monitoring, compliance and enforcement, early in the process to assist in writing rental regulations.

The company offers services the county is looking for, but “Host Compliance is not the only one out there,” Murphy said.

Interim IT Director Debra Bragdon informed commissioners in a memo that the county wants whichever company it hires to “collect data on the extent of non-compliance issues, address identification, provide a web portal for applying and renewing short-term rental certificates, (collect) taxes and maintain a 24-hour hotline to take in short-term rental complaints” in addition to monitoring and enforcement.

According to the memo, that’s likely to cost upwards of $120,000 annually. The income from roughly 1,200 rental units outside the Brunswick city limits and Jekyll Island should cover the operating costs, it continues.

The ordinance itself states owners of rental units will have to pay $150 for bed tax certificates on top of the 5 percent bed tax itself, which many rental owners claim they already pay.

To make sure there’s enough time for bidding the project out and implementing it, Bragdon writes that IT personnel want to delay the effected date to April 1, 2021.

“One could say maybe we should have anticipated this, but myself being the commissioner most intimately involved with the ordinance, I didn’t know until the vote that we were actually going to pass the ordinance,” Murphy said.

While revenue may be a motivating factor, Murphy said he mostly wanted to use the ordinance to improve quality of life for neighborhood residents and safety in rental units.

Quality of life was a big issue among the ordinance’s supporters, of which over 100 emailed county commissioners in advance of the October meeting about their grievances.

Robert Pinkerton, a St. Simons Island resident, said he’d had plenty of bad experiences with rentals in his area but no one to contact with his complaints.

“The rentals on the south end of St. Simons have become a serious problem,” Pinkerton wrote. “The main issues I have with some renters are excessive noise, too many cars parked all over the place, excess garbage, trash cans left on the street and excessive numbers of signs.”

Karen Smith and her husband own a vacation home in the King City neighborhood, she told the commission. Over time, she claimed rental units have caused a noticeable change in the neighborhood’s “bucolic, well-kept” character.

“Since we bought our house, six houses in our immediate vicinity have gone on the market, all of which have been purchased for investment/rental properties,” Smith said. “This has significantly increased the activity, trash, noise, and unknown people and car traffic for us and our quality of life.”

East Beach resident Cesar Rodriguez gave a bulleted list of the negative effects short-term rentals have on his neighborhood, which includes dramatically more noise in the area, heavier traffic, lack of adherence to speed limits, unresponsive landlords or property managers and excessive numbers of cars in the street.

Other matters to be taken up by the finance committee include:

• Spending $9,250 to create a dog park around Kings Park and expand a dog park in North Glynn Recreational Complex.

• Paying the Pond Co. $11,200 for title searches associated with an overhaul of the Altama Connector and Golden Isles Parkway intersection and commercial corridor roadway.

• Approving a contract with Nationwide Retirement Solutions to manage the county’s new pension plan.

The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be broadcast to the county’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

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