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City Council approves fee increases for Building and Safety, Planning

March 08, 2006
Santa Paula City Council

The City Council approved fee increases on services provided by the Building and Safety and Planning departments and a new charge for technology updating, although not without a few Councilmembers voicing reservations at the February 21 meeting.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe City Council approved fee increases on services provided by the Building and Safety and Planning departments and a new charge for technology updating, although not without a few Councilmembers voicing reservations at the February 21 meeting.Proposed fee increases for Building and Safety and Planning services would bring estimated increases of $25,000 and $20,000 respectively to department budgets. A past study of city fees found that cost recovery for some services rendered lag behind the service given.Building and Safety plumbing, electrical and mechanical fees were proposed to be increased 10 percent to offset a projected 10 percent increase in the salaries of building inspectors. Permit issuance fees for plumbing, electrical and mechanical would be increased by $5, there would be a .25’ per sheet increase in the plan filing fee and a $33.50 increase in the basic building permit fee.Resources in the Planning Department as well as an increase in project load have been studied, and the results could lead to some large across the board increases. Planning staff advocated removing the set fee for several services and replacing them with the Fully Allocated Hourly Rate changes. In addition, most larger complex project requests will be required to cover the actual staff time taken to process the request, and applicants with discretionary projects will be required to make a deposit to be charged against for staff work time.
The current fee for a concept review application before the Planning Commission is $520, but the actual cost is calculated at $924. The averaged/real cost for a $35 over the counter plan check is $66. Other averaged/real cost figures are closer to the actual current application fee, according to the staff report.Mayor Rick Cook questioned the so-called New Technology fee that would be used to pay for the software and hardware component costs – estimated at $100,000 over the next five years – that would add $1.17 per $1,000 in building evaluation. Building and Safety Director Steve Stuart said the technology would upgrade all development computer processing, including permitting, tracking and data base expansion. Members of the public would also be able to access records, he added, and the surcharge is the same as the County of Ventura’s.“I’m not eager to raise fees of any sorts for services we provide, however we’re still behind,” noted Vice Mayor Ray Luna.“I hate to raise fees,” but Councilman John Procter said that actual costs must be recovered.