By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT TOWNSEND — Construction permits and hourly consulting fees with city officials will increase April 1.
The Port Townsend City Council approved the fee hike 6-0 Monday night. Councilwoman Michelle Sandoval was not present.
The increases, which take affect April 1, are meant to bring the city into parity with other regions and recover a greater percentage of costs, said Rick Sepler, city development services director.
“This brings us to the same level as what is charged in Jefferson County,” Sepler said. “And it reflects the recommendation by the International Code Council as to what should be charged.”
The City Council approved a raise in the formula used to determine construction value from $95 per square foot to $126.72 per square foot.
These numbers are applied to a formula used to calculate the permit cost and are not the cost of the permits themselves, said Sepler.
Hourly consulting fees will rise from $50 to $76.
Business permit fees are broken down into several categories. A chart of permit fees is on the city website at https://weblink.cityofpt.us.
All permit fees were increased in accordance with ICC regulations, Sepler said.
Sepler said that the $50 does not cover costs when all time spent is considered.
“We are not supposed to gift our services,” Sepler said. “These increases are closer to our expenses, so we are now charging the going rate.”
The city prepared two sets of projections of the revenue that would be generated by the increase, either with no growth or a projected 3 increase in permits due to the expected expansion of Jefferson Healthcare hospital and work on Building 202 at Fort Worden State Park.
With a combination of building permits and land use fees, the 2013 total of $204,000 would increase either to $242,835 with no growth or $374,000 with the projected growth.
The 42.35 percent cost recovery total for 2013 would increase to 50.41 percent with no growth or 66.26 percent with the projected growth.
Sepler said the city would continue to provide subsidies for nonprofits and other qualifying agencies who seek building permits, making it less expensive for those entities.
The Jefferson County Department of Community Development charges $76 an hour for permit consultations, with a 15-minute free period for each case.
The city of Port Townsend does not offer free time but does not track the time spent on answering short questions from permit applicants.
The development services department is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 250 Madison St., Suite 3.
It can be reached at 360-379-5095.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.