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Fees for Soil Conservation District services to go up

May 27, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Fees for plan reviews and inspections by the Washington County Soil Conservation District will increase effective July 1 under changes approved Tuesday by the Washington County Commissioners.

Existing fees will increase by an average of about 37 percent, and the district also will implement new fees for some reviews that do not have fees now, according to a fee comparison chart.

The increases passed 3-2, with Commissioners William J. Wivell and Terry Baker opposed.

Revenue from fees has been on a downward trend since mid-2008 as the number of plan approvals and site visits has decreased, soil conservation district director Elmer Weibley told the commissioners.

The soil conservation district considered staffing reductions, but found its full staff was needed to keep up with changing rules such as new stormwater management regulations, he said.

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As of the end of April, the soil conservation district was in the red about $32,292, Weibley said.

"You can see from the way our finances have gone with this program that we've held off as long as we could coming to you in the hopes that we would be able to trim our budgets enough to not have to ask for a fee increase," he said.

As examples, Weibley said soil conservation district fees for a project like a Walmart that disturbs about 53 acres of land would increase from $4,817 to $5,806 with the new fees. Fees for a small residential project such as the 28-lot Cannon Ridge East development, with about 4.6 acres of disturbed land, would increase from $29.50 per lot to $43.21 per lot.

Weibley said the increases probably would be passed on to home buyers, but the district tried to keep them as small as possible.

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