TURLOCK NOW: Building fees cut by 25 percent

06/17/2013 5:40 PM

06/20/2013 1:09 PM

Turlock is giving developers a $135,000 break to help encourage building.

The Turlock City Council approved a 25 percent fee cut during its meeting last week. In January, the council had asked city staff to reduce proposed fees in an effort to spur growth.

City Principal Civil Engineer Eric Picciano said several of the fees had been modified per the council’s request. The original fee table proposed reflected actual costs to the city to conduct and process a variety of different kinds of construction inspections and permits.

“In essence, it’s a $135,000 subsidy that will be given to the building permit process,” said City Manager Roy Wasden. The money will come from the city’s tax-funded general budget.

At the same meeting the council approved an additional $400,000 in deficit spending for the general fund to go toward additional police and fire department overtime pay. The 2013-14 fiscal year budget includes $1.4 million in reserve fund spending.

Councilman Steven Nascimento voted against the fee cuts, saying the money should be used for other essential services.

“We’re looking at cutting some programs I know the council supports...at the same time we’re allowing the development in this community to be subsidized at 25 percent,” he said. “I think that’s not an appropriate use of resources. I would rather redirect those funds into the general fund to support those programs I think are more important.”

But councilwoman Amy Bublak was a strong backer of the subsidy, and said it will help the city’s economy in the long run.

“There is an economies of scale so developers are able to come in and do some building, start businesses, residential,” Bublak said. “That which you feel up front, taking some funds out, you will actually yield more in the far end. My philosophy is you have to stimulate the growth to pay for everyone to work here in the city.”

The new reduced fees passed by a split 3-2 vote, with councilmen Nascimento and Forrest White dissenting.

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