Fee hike proposed for building permits

A 61 percent increase may be on the horizon for all building permits issued in Carson City.

Carson City supervisors will consider Thursday a proposal to end taxpayer subsidy of the city's building permit program, said Phil Herrington, chief building official.

The permit program brings in about $750,000, but it takes about $1.3 million to operate the program, Herrington said.

"What's happened is John Q. Citizen is subsidizing that process. That shouldn't happen," he said.

Harrington said with approval, a building permit fee for a $100,000 home would go from $1,007 to $1,640. A $197,000 home in Silver Oak, for example, would see a permit fee increase of nearly $1,000, from $1,570 up to $2,557.

Now, plans come to the building department, and the fee charged basically covers the cost of the building department viewing the plans, even though it goes to the fire department and several other departments for review. The fee doesn't pay for the time from other departments.

"You shouldn't be paying more than what it takes to review the plan, but you shouldn't pay less either," Herrington said.

He is proposing that the city create an enterprise fund where fees generated from permits go back into a specific fund that would make the building permit program self-funded.

With the extra money generated by the fee increase, Herrington said the building department would hire an additional five people as well as increase the days the one-stop shop permit program is open from three days a week to five.

The move is supported by local builders.

Tom Metcalf, president of the Builders Association of Western Nevada, said the builders group is looking for a more focused service for the building community.

"What we're looking at is if we pay more, we're going to get a higher, more coordinated level of service," Metcalf said. "It costs more if your project drags out for a long time. For every day we get a permit earlier, it is a day less of costs."

Metcalf said the builders support the proposal if they have some oversight of the enterprise fund and permit process. That basically means extending the city's current one-stop shop oversight committee to make sure the builders play a bigger part in the planning process.

"Information in equals information out," Metcalf said. "We want to set a high standard of how our plans need to go in. We're putting the plans in, and how can they produce us a good building permit without good plans? We need to be part of the process to see what we need to do better."

Ron Kipp, a member of the one-stop shop committee and head of project development for Landmark Homes, said the process will improve the turnaround time from plans to construction.

"We get frustrated when we have to wait and wait and wait to get our projects approved," Kipp said. "You send plans in, but you never know when you're going to get them back.

"Time is money. Like anywhere you go, if you're willing to pay for the service, it improves. This has been the committee's goal since we started the one stop shop two years ago. With the enterprise fund, when times are good and the building department needs more help to finish projects, they can pay for it."

Other plans included in the proposal include a provision to charge developers 75 percent less for a permit review on plans that will be used to build more than one home. It costs $400 to review a set of plans for each house now, but would be lowered to $100 with the proposal. Herrington said hopefully, the developers' savings would be passed on to the home buyer. Also, the city's express plan check for large commercial projects such as Costco would be expanded.

Building permit fees would raise by the following amounts with a proposed 61 percent fee hike:

Price of home Current fee Proposed fee

$74,000 $825 $1,343

$100,000 $1,007 $1,640

$125,000 $1,151 $1,875

$197,000 $1,570 $2,557


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