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HBA official cautions council about fee increases
Despite delaying action next month on a resolution that would increase some Department of Community Development and Public Works fees, the council heard from a home building association official during a March 11 public hearing.
The resolution would change some DCD and Public Works fees from $50 to more than $1,300.
Teresa Osinski, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County, said HBA members are effected and understand the rate changes, but asked the council to look at the magnitude of the fee increases.
“It’s been many years since they changed [the fees], but some of the increases are [between] 100 and 500 percent,” she said.
Osinski noted that some of the fees are going from $200 to more than a $1,000.
“Oftentimes in a project, there are multiple fees that need to be paid throughout the course of the project,” said Osinski. “You need to be aware that any single rate doesn’t effect one project at one time.”
Osinski cautioned the council to “look carefully” at the proposed fee increases and needs of the city.
“Be careful on how much you increase them and how rapidly you do it,” said Osinski.
She said there are good indicators the housing market is improving, but it’s “not that robust.”
Osinski voiced concerns about a $10 technology surcharge.
“I would caution you to look at the legality of the fee,” said Osinski. “The statute is very specific about what fees can be tacked onto a building permit. It doesn’t mean you can’t collect the fees you need for the services you offer. Be careful that the way you are proposing to collect those fees is legal and consistent with state statutes.”
Councilman Fred Chang asked Osinski what she thought about the proposed fees compared to other cities in the county.
“At one time, Port Orchard was the most reasonable city to get a permit,” said Osinski.
She said she has concerns when a single jurisdiction uses another jurisdiction as their “benchmark.”
“Port Orchard is unique. It is its own autonomous government,” said Osinski. “You have your own expenses, your own staffing levels, and how you pay your staff may have nothing to do with how another jurisdiction does.”
She asked the council to justify the rate increases for the city’s needs and not because of a neighboring jurisdiction.
Development Director Nick Bond said the city hasn’t updated its DCD and Public Works fees since 2006. Bond said last year the Department of Community Development (DCD) generated revenue which equaled 54 percent of department expenditures.
In 2013, the city received $327,293 in revenue from building and planning permits, and building plans reviews. The total department expenditures were $610,546, which included building and planning department salaries, benefits and other expenditures.
Bond noted that since 2006 that COLA (Cost of Living Adjustments) and benefit costs have increased and the department is due for a major permitting software upgrade.
Revenue from the fee increase is dependent on permit activity and the city budgeted $6,000 for additional revenue for technology fees, $4,000 for land-use permit fees and $15,000 in additional building permit revenue, according to a staff report.
Under the proposed resolution, fees for a short plat preliminary would increase from $200 plus $50 per lot to $1,000, while short plat amendments would increase from $100 to $500. There is no cost now for final short plat alternation, but would be a $500 fee under the proposed resolution.
There are no fees now for preliminary plats of five lots or more. The resolution would establish a $2,000 cost in addition to a hearing examiner fee for preliminary plats between 5 to 20 lots and the same for 21 or more lots, plus a $50 per lot fee — the largest increase under the proposed resolution.
Fees for the comprehensive plan amendment map would increase from $500 to $1,875 each.
There also would be more than a $1,000 increase for a shoreline conditional use permit (CUP) and shoreline variance. The current fees are $250, but the resolution is asking for $1,275 fee, plus a hearing examiner fee.
There would be a $500 fee for minor preliminary plat amendments, $1,275 for binding site plans, $500 for a binding site plan alteration and $350 for a final binding site plan.
Fees for a project checklist review and threshold determination would increase from $250 to $300, in addition to a $300 fee for a non-project checklist review and threshold determination.
Before the agenda was approved, Councilman Jerry Childs asked that the resolution for establishing fee schedules be removed from the agenda and placed on the April 8 agenda.
Childs asked that the resolution be sent to the Finance Committee for discussion.
“The local home builders and realtors have a problem with some things in the resolution,” said Childs. “If we take it back to the Finance Committee we can re-evaluate the potential changes in light of the 2014 budget.”
City Attorney Greg Jacoby said he and Bond will discuss holding another public hearing at the April meeting.
Councilmen John Clauson and Rob Putaansuu were absent from the meeting.