Planning board recommends county adopts new building permit fee pay schedule

Published 8:28 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Decatur County Planning Board has recommended to the Board of Commissioners that the county should change the way it computes its building permit fees.

For several months, the planning board has held meetings every two weeks to discuss the issue. Currently, the county assesses building permit fees for new construction on the basis of square footage of a 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 the planning board’s April 24 meeting, the board tentatively approved a new fee schedule that would base building permit fees on the valuation of a building’s construction. However, they also instructed Building Official Craig Smith and County Finance Director Carl Rowland to “tweak” that schedule slightly.

Email newsletter signup

Tuesday, Smith presented an updated schedule to the planning board. Under that schedule, a building costing up to $5,000 would be permitted at $65. From that point, for every additional $1,000 in valuation, the permit fee would go up another $4.50. This progression would continue until a $1 million building, which would be permitted at $4,000 — a discounted price compared to the original price of $4,542.50.

After a $1 million building, the fee would be assessed at an additional $3.80 for every additional $1,000 in valuation. There would be an exemption for farm buildings or structures that “are designed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services not used for residential or public use.” Those buildings would be exempt from fees, but would still need to meet setback and be submitted to the planning department for verification.

After some discussion, a letter was drafted from the planning board to make the official recommendation to the Board of Commissioners. That letter states:

“To ensure that fair values of new construction or renovations are submitted during the permitting process, we propose the following to address those concerns:

• Require that permits issued are substantiated by actual contracts for new construction or renovations, or require that estimates established by the owner or general contractor be comparable to 50 percent of the most recent International Code Council (ICC)’s valuation schedule, whichever is greater.”

Smith explained that the ICC valuation would be used in cases where the builder did not have a contracted price, or it was determined that the contracted price requested was far below market value. The ICC valuation table includes an average construction cost per-square-foot for a variety of different types of buildings, both residential and commercial. For example, according to the ICC, a residential one-family home with steel and/or concrete construction with fireproofing, would be valued at a price of $97.21 per square foot, if no contracted valuation was available.

The planning board agreed to have Board Chairman Dean Free sign the letter, and then send it to the Board of Commissioners, to have them debate it and possibly vote on the changes, at an upcoming county meeting.