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January 25, 2013

Officials send building fees forward to Council

CLINTON — A rise in building and permit fees squeaked through the Clinton Committee of the Whole on Tuesday with a split vote to send the increases forward.

Nearly a year after being denied fee increases, Building and Neighborhood Service official Mike Harmon returned to the Committee of the Whole meeting with a less substantial increase request.  

While the proposed fee and permit increase will not make the office entirely self sustaining, as previous increases were pegged to do, it will help the office rely less on the general fund for funding, Harmon said.  

Harmon’s first proposal, which was presented to the Internal Operations Committee last week, called for increases across the board at once. After making changes at the suggestion of the committee, the proposal he shared with Clinton City Council members entailed a phased-in set of increases that would occur over three years. The first year would increase industrial/commercial fees, which would increase by approximately 8 percent; the second year miscellaneous fees would rise and the third year would increase residential fees. Residential fees would increase by approximately 3 percent, Harmon said.    

At-large Council member John Rowland asked Harmon to clarify the potential impact of the increases.  

“Will or will not if we implement this as presented, will it generate $60,000 to $80,000 in fee increases at the end of three years?” Rowland asked.

Harmon said they would under the best conditions, but not until after the three-year fee implementation was complete.   

“Based on the numbers we had this year, over the period of three years,” Harmon said.   

At-Large Council member Jennifer Graf suggested rather than a three-year increase implementation, the fees should be instated over two years. She proposed implementing the industrial/commercial and residential fees be put into effect on July 1 and the miscellaneous permit fees be enacted a year later.  

“We also have an opportunity to set a fee schedule that may possibly start recovering costs.  As all of us know, we’ve set the garbage pickup fee that doesn’t even come close to what our costs are. We can’t continue to operate as a business as a city in that type of fashion,” Graf said.

Not all Council members agreed. The measure was narrowly forwarded to the next City Council meeting with a 4-3 vote.  Members Rowland, Fourth Ward Council member Paul Gassman and First Ward Council member Maggie Klaes opposed.

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