The city has only three zoning inspectors, so it's a big deal to some officials when the mayor proposes to eliminate one.

Gary Schiff, who chairs the council's Zoning and Planning Committee, was one of them.  He got the attention of some powerful interests Tuesday when he proposed shifting $92,000 to finance the cost of salary and benefits for that person. Schiff targeted the city's contribution to Greater MSP, the new regional economic development partnership financed by public and private contributions.

That would cut the Greater MSP contribution to $58,000.

After alarm bells rang in Mayor R.T. Rybak's office and the city's development agency, Schiff said the three zoning enforcers were standing between the city and zoning scofflaws--those who built fences above the legal height or don't plant what they promise when the city approves a business site plan.

The matter was postponed ovenight and Schiff switched to a source that doesn't gore as many oxen. He got the council committee to approve a new source that would fund the job: higher fees for re-inspections from people who are issued zoning orders but don't comply . The fee would go from $150 to $200.  Land use application fees also will increase by 3.5 percent.