Builders unhappy with fee proposal

May 07, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

A City of Hagerstown proposal for new review and inspection fees had Home Builders Association of Washington County officials seeing red, at least in terms of their bottom lines, and sparked a Tuesday morning meeting with city officials.

In response to information provided by the Home Builders Association in a May 2 letter to the city and at Tuesday's meeting, the city will re-examine the proposal to see if the fees should be lower than planned, city Finance Director Alfred Martin said.

In order to cover city costs related to plan reviews and inspections of new developments, the city is scheduled to start charging fees to the developers in the next fiscal year, Martin said. The new fiscal year starts July 1.


Those expenses - estimated to be $150,000 to $200,000 annually - currently are paid by all city water and sewer customers. Under the new method, only those causing the costs to be incurred would be charged, he said.

While the fees are not intended to make a profit for the city, under estimates provided by Debi Turpin, Home Builders Association executive director, the charge could generate up to $300,000 per year, Martin said.

"They were way out of line," Turpin said of the proposed fees.

Turpin, in a May 2 letter, said the proposed fees would hurt both the building and development industry and residents, and would deter economic development.

Turpin on Tuesday said she was pleased the city will take another look at the fees and compare how much other municipalities charge.

"While any added fee increases the cost of housing, if they revise the fee in keeping with their proposed budget figures, that certainly will have less of an impact on the cost of housing than their original fee would have," Turpin said.

If the proposal is changed, as he expects, the city will have to publicize the change and hold an additional public hearing, Martin said.

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