Action delayed on permit fee increase

October 08, 1997


Staff Writer

The Washington County Commissioners delayed a vote on raising permit fees Tuesday after some commissioners raised questions about the size and fairness of the proposed 50 percent hike.

The commissioners approved updated building, plumbing, mechanical and electrical codes but balked when it came to proposed rate hikes.

Paul Prodonovich, director of permits and inspections, had proposed increases in building, plumbing and electrical fees and proposed imposing fees for the first time on mechanical inspections.

The new fees would raise about $246,000 for the county in a good building year, Prodonovich said.

The increases would hit small projects harder than large projects on a percentage basis because of new application fees ranging from $20 to $75 for mechanical and electrical inspections.


The price of all permits needed for construction of an average two-story house would increase from $372 to $554, a rise of 49 percent, according to county figures.

The price of permits for a project like Staples would only rise 0.5 percent, from $60,647 to $60,929.

The plan has been criticized by some homebuilders and contractors.

A county comparison with Frederick and Howard counties in Maryland showed that the new fees would be about the same as Frederick County's and lower than Howard County's.

Prodonovich noted that permit fees haven't been increased since 1988.

Commissioner James R. Wade said the higher fees would be a part of the commissioners' plans to have county departments pay their own way. Wade said taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize the permitting process.

But County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers said the proposed increases were exorbitant.

Commissioner R. Lee Downey suggested a phasing in of the fees over the next few years, but Prodonovich said that would be an administrative nightmare.

Commissioners John S. Shank questioned why a project like Staples wouldn't have to pay much more while home builders would.

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