TURLOCK — The City Council has adopted a complex building permit fee structure that will increase costs for some new developments and improvements.
In a special meeting before the regular board meeting Tuesday evening, the council was presented with a report recommending it switch from its old valuation-based fee structure, which has been subject to lawsuits in other areas, to an actual-cost structure.
The new structure ultimately could raise fees for several sorts of projects, from new residential construction to tenant improvements, commercial buildings and minor home projects, based on the amount of work required.
As presented, fees could go up about 43 percent, or about $1,500, on single-
family construction. Other fees would depend solely on hours worked, calculated at $118 to $198 an hour.
The council adopted the fee structure unanimously, then in a 3-2 vote sought to mitigate the increasing costs and encourage development by reducing the fees by 25 percent. The reduction has a 24-month time limit, with a review after a year.
It switched commercial and new residential permits to a deposit-based system that would have variable fees for each project based on hours.
Councilmen Steven Nascimento and Forrest White were the dissenting votes.
The fees in question were for the city's plan check, inspection and records management costs. A consultant report on the current fee structure showed the city was recovering only about 59 percent of its costs. As such, the department has to dip into the general fund and operates 21 percent of its budget in deficit.
"We spend a lot of time out there inspecting and plan checking and we're not getting paid for it," said Eric Picciano, a principal civil engineer for the city.
Sharon Silva, Development Collaborative Advisory Committee chairwoman, recommended the 25 percent reduction to the council, as did a representative from the Building Industry Association.
Even with the reduction, the new structure puts many of the city's fees for commercial, warehouse and single-family projects above neighboring cities including Modesto, Merced and Manteca.
The new permit fees for minor projects such as water heaters, air conditioning and heating systems, and electrical heaters will go up as well. They range from $60 to $170 and will go up to $100 to $200 under the new structure.