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By Dave Taylor
With a new administrator, county planning and zoning commission is making big changes, including upping the fees for services and proposing a new way to fund the commission to ensure it gets paid.
Prior to new administrator Jeff Dame’s appointment, the fee schedule hadn’t changed in years and some fees weren’t being charged, so Dame introduced new rates that he said will help the commission stay solvent.
The new fees will include inspection, but for single family residential construction the rate would move .21 to .25, the number that’s multiplied by the square footage to calculate the fee, and things like detached garages will go from .10 to .15.
Fees for constructing commercial or industrial buildings will rise sharply as the size of the building increases. Commercial structures up to 1,000 square feet will move from $115 to $210, but the big jump comes for buildings up to 25,000 square feet, where the permit fee will jump from $450 to $3,750. Larger than 25,000 square feet will go rom $675 to $3,000.
Industrial permits will spike too, with buildings up to 25,000 square feet moving from $450 to $3,750, but buildings larger than 100,000 square feet going from $1,350 or $2,700 fees to $12,000.
Other fees change as well, like zoning changes, which move from $100 to $125 and plat fees, which go from $40 plus $6 per lot to $60 plus $10 per lot over one.
“We don’t want to squeeze money from people,” Dame said. “That’s the last thing I want to do is squeeze money from folks. But we should be up to date on what we charge, and if we do work we should charge for it because we’re broke…”
The commission also discussed the ongoing battle to get the funding from the city of Hawesville, which had stopped making its quarterly payments last year and had sought to renegotiate the terms under which the city, along with the city of Lewisport and the county fiscal court, paid to run the commission.
Member Tommy Hunt said that with the city of Hawesville making late payments or no payments at all and then not being required to pay any back fees, he had a plan that would bypass all of it.
“A solution that would cure the whole problem: fiscal court gives Lewisport $50,00 a year, gives Hawesville $50,000 a year. Deduct $10,000 out of each one of them so that everything’s equal. We get paid, nobody loses no money,” he said.
The fiscal court gives each city $50,000 to use as each sees fit, and Hunt argued that it would be a quick and easy way to get the commission’s money.
“It’s the same money but we get operating capital, plain and simple,” he said. “And if that don’t work then I’m going to push to amend our bylaws to drop Hawesville out of planning and zoning.”