May 22, 2016

Building permit fees may see increase

From the city,
Spokesman files

CITY OF REDMOND PUBLIC HEARING:
CONSIDERATION TO AMEND BUILDING PERMIT FEES

The City of Redmond City Council is hosting a public hearing on Tuesday, May 24, 6:30 pm to consider the matter of amending the fee schedule for various building permits issued by the Building Division of the Community Development Department. 

The City has not raised its building permit fees in over ten years, and enjoys one of the best reputations for customer service in the state of Oregon.  However, in order to continue to provide that service the City has decided that it needs to raise its building permit fees. 

“Redmond has not adjusted our building fees in over ten years. That's been intentional as we strive to operate lean, yet still bring quality to our customers.  However, having a flat rate is not sustainable.  We have to begin to scale services that meet our customers’ expectations.  This action begins to do just that”, said Keith Witcosky, Redmond City Manager.  “The City is aware that to our customers’ time is literally money. The sooner a permit is issued or a plan approved the quicker a project can get to market.  We are confident this fee adjustment will help us deliver those services in a fashion that meets the expectations of our hardworking customers.”

In 2008, due to the recession, Redmond reduced its Building Division to two personnel and helped to fund the program with general fund dollars in order to retain a Building Official and Building Permit Technician.  The building program though is meant to be an Enterprise Fund, whereby development pays for the cost of development, and fees are collected to fund the program.  The current fee structure does not allow the City to hire additional staff and with increased activity, the City is struggling to keep up with the permitting activity in a timely manner. 

A fee study conducted in 2015 demonstrated that the City’s building permit fees are substantially below where they need to be to support a building program.  In order to continue to provide one of the best building programs in the state of Oregon, the City of Redmond is considering an overall average 20% fee increase on building permit fees. 

Prior to making the decision to increase the building permit fees, City of Redmond leaders visited with builders and developers in the area to explain the issues and to seek advice on how to move forward.  The development community was supportive of the fee increase and recognized the need after so many years without an increase. 

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that the building permit fees are a fraction of the overall development fees for construction.  What we heard from the builders was that they were supportive of our effort to continue to provide timely and quality customer service as long as the overall impact to the development fees was not significant,” stated Heather Richards, Community Development Director for the City of Redmond.

For example, the development fees on an 1,850 square foot house is approximately $15,000.  Of this, $1,650 is the building permit fee.  With the proposed fee increase the building fee would increase by $350 to $2,000.  The overall development fee would increase to approximately $15,350, a 2.2% overall increase. 

As Aaron Yuma, Redmond’s Building Official explained, “The City is experiencing almost three times the rate of permit activity than last year and we’re highly motivated to provide the very best service to our customers as possible.  I’m excited that we have an opportunity right now to put our department in a position to hire highly qualified and experienced building inspectors, plans examiners and permit technicians to provide timely, efficient and professional service our community expects from us.”

The public hearing will be held at the City Council Chambers, 777 SW Deschutes Avenue in Redmond. This is a public meeting and interested parties are invited to attend. Meetings are broadcast live on COTV 11 - BendBroadband Channel 11 beginning at 6:30 p.m. on regular meeting nights.

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