Planning board may change fees

Published 10:26 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Members of the Decatur County Planning Board discuss the county's current building permit fee pay schedule, at Tuesday's called meeting.|Justin Schuver

After an approximately two-hour meeting Tuesday, the Decatur County Planning Board approved eventually recommending to the Board of Commissioners that the county’s building permit fee schedule should be changed.

Currently, the county assesses building permit fees for new construction on the basis of square footage of the building’s area. Several citizens have stated in public meetings that this system has resulted in fees that are out of line, compared to the fees of surrounding counties.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Building Official Craig Smith offered a new permit fee schedule that would be based on the valuation of a building’s construction. Under this drafted schedule, any building that costs $0 to $5,000 would be assessed a building permit fee of $65.

Each additional $1,000 in valuation would then increase the permit fee by an increment of $4.50. For example, a $6,000 building would have a fee of $69.50; a $7,000 building would have a fee of $74, and so on.

Smith said that a $100,000 building at 10,000 square feet is currently assessed a building permit fee of $2,875 if storage, $3,925 if residential and $3,775 if commercial. If the new system is adopted by the Board of Commissioners, all $100,000 buildings would be assessed the same permit fee of $492.50.

Smith said some additional fees would be necessary for plumbing, electrical hookups and other utilities, but those fees would likely be around $55 each. Planning review fees would go away completely.
“I tried to come up with a fee schedule that I think will work for everybody,” said Smith, who is the supervisor of the Decatur County Planning Department.

The Planning Board agreed the draft was a solid start, but had some additional questions. For example, several Board Members questioned if the fees should regress slightly for higher-priced buildings. As a suggestion, it was stated perhaps the increase would only be $3.50 for every additional $1,000, after the $1 million mark.

Several Planning Board members pointed out that such a move could make the county more attractive to large businesses, who would likely need to construct buildings with valuations well over $1 million.

The Planning Board recommended for Smith and County Finance Director Carl Rowland to research the possibility of installing a “regressive” fee for higher-cost buildings.

They also set their next called meeting for Tuesday, May 8, at 1:30 p.m., at the county administration building. The Planning Board tentatively hopes to be able to approve the final schedule at that meeting, and then recommend it to the Board of Commissioners. The Board of Commissioners must then act upon the recommendation in a regular commission meeting.