According to an article in today's Journal Times, the city of Racine's Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team (UNIT) is substituting $50 inspection fees for $80 citations for building code violations. I wonder if they ran that idea past the city attorney.
Angry at your neighbor? Call the UNIT, make up some bogus violation, and your neighbor will be socked with a $50 inspection fee. Now I strongly suspect that the fee will only apply to those inspections that find a violation. So inspections that do not involve a violation will be free, while inspections that involve code violations will cost $50. Thus the city simply is actually engaged in semantics, substituting the word fee for citation. It is a citation but it is called a fee.
Also problematic is the appeals process, wherin those who recieve an "inspection fee" will have the opportunity to appeal to the chief building inspector, Rick Heller. It would seem to me that the only way to dispute an inspection fee is to argue that the inspection did not occur. It will be easy enough to prove that the inspection did indeed occur because the inspectors will be photographing the properties in question. Thus there would be no point in appealing. Of course we must remember that this is really a citation and not a fee, so I suspect that reasonable appeals of the citation will stand a fighting chance will Rick Heller, whom I have found to be a reasonable fellow.
The city is using the term fee when in reality they will simply be issuing citations and calling them fees. To me this is an obvious abuse of the English language. There should be an English Language Inspection Team (ELIT) and a fee, of course, for violators.