Building without permit costs double

It now costs a little more to get a building permit in Island County, but it will cost a lot more for those who are caught building without a permit.

Interim Planning Director Keith Higman presented commissioners Monday with a resolution that increases building permits by an average of 1.5 percent.

Higman described the complex task of setting new building permit fees, which are based on total valuation. The goal was to more accurately collect fees to cover the planning department’s costs in dealing with building permits.

“Some fees are increasing, some fees are actually decreasing and some fees are staying the same,” Higman said.

As of July 6, the permit fee for building a project with a total valuation of $100,001 will be $1,037. A permit for $1 million house will be $3,782.

In addition, anyone caught building without a permit will have to pay double the standard permit fee. Currently, the county has no penalty for people who don’t get a building permit when it’s necessary.

“Staff has pushed a very long time for this,” Higman said.

Coupeville resident Gary Wray spoke as a representative of Habitat for Humanity. He was concerned about the impact the fee increase would have on affordable housing.

“It’s not a lot, but everything adds up,” he said.

Higman and Commissioner Angie Homola responded to Wray’s comments, noting that they are trying to ensure that the planning department remains self sufficient. That would require the fees collected to cover all the costs in the office.

Higman pointed out that $400,000 has been cut from the department this year.

“We’re trying to deliver services in the most efficient and affordable way,” he said.

Commissioners Homola and John Dean voted to pass the resolution. Commissioner Helen Price Johnson had attended the meeting early via speakerphone, but was absent from the vote.

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