The Albany City Council reviewed a number of recommended fee changes related to building, planning and transportation during its Wednesday night meeting.
The group altered fees associated with the transportation system development charge, as well as both the planning and building division fees.
Current residential building permit fees start at a base of $60. Staff recommended that it fall more in line with the commercial permit at $75. The council approved the recommendation and also greenlit a $225 re-roofing fee after questions from councilor Mike Sykes about the need for one. According to city staff, Albany is mandated by the state to issue permits and inspections for roofing and simply pulled the fee out as a separate line item.
In dealing with the transportation development system charges, the council approved moving $468,000 from a project meant to improve sidewalks on Gibson Hill Road to a project shared with the county on Goldfish Farm Road. The transfer would still leave $225,000 for Gibson Hill, a move made possible by a grant the city received for the remainder of the Gibson Hill project four years ago.
The changes to the planning fee garnered the most interest from the council. Overall, they would add $40,000 to the $10,000 that had been estimated to come from the fees earlier in the year.
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Staff reminded council that in August it discussed creating a true cost-recovery model that would see fees more closely cover the cost of planning staff's time. The charge, which ran about $35, was originally labeled a building fee. On Wednesday, however, it was relabeled a planning fee and, with the council's approval, increased to 15% of the building plan review fee, which is dependent on each proposed project.
Resident Mike Quinn spoke during Wednesday's meeting, noting that he felt many of the changes mirrored those made to fees in Corvallis. According to Quinn, builders first saw the re-roofing fee in that city.
John Robinson spoke during the public hearing on all three fees and said he questioned the city's approach.
"I would comment that the case staff makes is that the fee doesn't cover the cost of staff," he said. "I don't see an explanation of what staff has done to reduce the cost needed to do the work."
Councilor Rich Kellum said staff had made changes that weren't always publicized.
"There have been times that we've saved money for a builder so that it wouldn't be passed on by using electronic means instead of paper so that we didn't have to hire back as many people from the 2008 time frame, when we laid people off," he said.