Changing building permit fee schedule is great idea

Published 9:16 am Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday, after an hour-and-a-half work session, the Decatur County Planning Board arrived at the conclusion that the county’s building permit fee pay structure needed to be changed. The planning board tasked Building Inspector Craig Smith to develop a new pay schedule based on building valuation, and to bring that tentative draft to the next planning board work session on Tuesday, April 24, at 1:30 p.m.

We applaud the planning board for making this decision. It has been readily apparent for some time that the county’s square-footage-based system is unfair, results in higher-than-necessary fees, and discourages growth in the county.

Under the county’s existing fee schedule, all newly constructed buildings are charged on a per-square-foot basis. For example, residential heated is at $0.26 per square-foot; commercial is at $0.25 per square-foot, and storage is $0.19 per square-foot. Seminole County, Miller County, Grady County, Mitchell County and the City of Bainbridge all calculate their building permit fees on a valuation-based system. Essentially, building permit fees are collected based on the value of the building being constructed. This is a much fairer system than the county’s method, which would theoretically give the same permit fee to a 10,000-square-foot warehouse as it would to a 10,000-square-foot bank.

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We are glad that the planning board has tasked Smith with drafting a similar system for Decatur County. Although that initial draft may take some extra tweaking, we hope that the planning board will soon be able to recommend to the Board of Commissioners that this change should be made. And from there, we hope the commissioners move to adopt the change, and get Decatur County back to being competitive with its neighbors.