Planning Board is on the right track

Published 8:02 am Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We applaud Building Official Craig Smith, the county’s Planning Department, and the Decatur County Planning Board for taking visible steps to address the problem of the county’s assessment of building permit fees.

At Tuesday’s special meeting of the Planning Board, Smith presented the board members with a tentative building permit fee schedule that is based on building valuation. Any building that costs $0 to $5,000 would be assessed a permit fee of $65. For every additional $1,000 in valuation, there would be an additional $4.50 added to the fee cost — for example, a building that costs $6,000 would be permitted at $69.50; a $7,000 building would cost $74, and so on. Under Smith’s proposal, the review fee would be eliminated and there would be additional one-time fees (likely $55 each) assessed for plumbing, electrical and mechanical.

This proposed schedule brings Decatur County much closer in line with its surrounding counties. For example, a $100,000 building is permitted in Miller County at $510, in Seminole County at $361, and in Grady County at $460. Under Smith’s proposal, this same building would be permitted at a cost of $492.50 — it had previously cost anywhere from $2,875 to $3,775, based on if the building was storage, residential, or commercial.

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It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that $492.50 is quite a significant difference from $2,875. While the county might lose some revenue in the short run, there will likely be dividends in the long run as prospective businesses will see this move as a pro-business, pro-economic growth move. Hopefully it will attract current businesses to expand, and additional new businesses to come to the county.

While the schedule will likely see additional tweaking before the Planning Board recommends the final draft to the Decatur County Board of Commissioners, it is an excellent first step.