Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
Are fees to high?
First of all, what my story today did not say was that most of the permits and building the discount did spur was for decks, additions, pools and other smaller items by people like you and me. I asked for a list of people who applied for permits during the "permit sale" and found that most of them were average jane and joes. There were some company names on there but I didn’t see any major project. Muvico got a discount for its fireline by the plumbing contractor. Green Turtle, which will open at the mall, got a discount for its fire sprinkler. That’s the kind of stuff that’s on the list, and it does not say what the charge is for each project, but I didn’t ask for that.
I was reading the comments on the story today and one person said this:
"My husband, who is an engineer, built a deck (16X16, not enclosed or covered) on our home in the spring. The cost of the building materials was approximately $2,000. The cost of the permit from the county was $422.73. This was before the discounted fees. Maybe this is why the number of permits has decreased."
Is that too much? I have heard residents, big-scale developers, and even supervisors complain that the fees are too high in Spotsylvania County, but when staff does a comparable test with other similar localities, they find that they are in line, and sometimes even below. Maybe I should get a list of all the permits you need to build a deck or an addition from our entire coverage area and compare the fees. This wouldn’t be much of an assistance to the major commercial or homebuilders but it would to the average person in the county.
What happens when you reduce fees? Most of the positions in the planning, code, and building departments are fee supported. If you don’t get the fees, you have to let people go. Most of the county supervisors have made it clear that they do not want to do anymore layoffs.