The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Monday, October 15, 2012
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
A public hearing is set for Tuesday night on proposals to amend the structure of building permit fees in Franklin County.
The issue surfaced during the September board of supervisors meeting when Peter Ahrens, the county's building official, told the board the current permit fee structure is "out of balance," with many small project fees the same as or more than larger construction projects.
For example, the permit fee for a 500-square-foot alteration ($40,000 value) is now $400. The fee for a 2,000-square-foot new home ($200,000 value) is $300.
That's because, Ahrens said, alteration fees are based on $10 for every $1,000 of value, while new dwelling fees are based on 15 cents per square foot.
Ahrens recommended lowering the rate for an alteration and other projects, but raising it for new dwellings and new non-residential commercial structures.
"It would balance out the current structure," he said, adding that it could be set up to bring in the same revenue but be more equitable.
Ahrens also addressed the current revenue from fees and said it pays about 53 percent of the building department's operating expenses.
"Only Roanoke City is a self-funded department," he said. However, the city has some of the highest fees in the region.
Ahrens said the fee structure could be changed to raise the county's current 53 percent.
"Builders make the money but taxpayers foot the bill for inspection," said Rocky Mount Supervisor Charles Wagner.
Other supervisors agreed and approved a motion to send the fee structure change proposal to a public hearing.
Supervisors also asked Ahrens to compile different options. Those options will be presented at the public hearing.
The proposed options, which incorporate a more equitable formula related to the size of the project, increase some fees and lower others.
The fees could be increased enough to pay up to 85 percent of the department's operating expenses.
Under an option that would be overall about revenue neutral, the fee for the same 500-square-foot alteration would be $160, while the fee for the same new dwelling would be $380.
With a proposal that would raise the self-funding percentage to 85 percent, the fee for the alteration would be $200 and the fee for the new dwelling would rise to $600.
Ahrens told the board last month that balancing the permit fee structure provides equity and does not penalize certain types of construction projects.
The public hearing will start at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the government center's board meeting room.