Permit fees due another county hike

On Monday, Island County commissioners will consider increasing permit fees in the planning department for the second time this year.

The proposal is to increase building permit fees by 10 percent. The proposed increases in the fees planning, health and the public works department charge for land-use permits vary by the type, but some are sizable. The cost of appealing to the hearing examiner, for example, would increase from $400 to $1,740.

In June, the board increased fees for land-use permits for the first time in seven years. They also increased building permit fees by 1.5 percent.

Planning Director Bob Pederson explained that there are three basic reasons for the second round of increases. First of all, they bring the county closer to recovering the cost of processing the permits. Essentially, taxpayers are currently subsidizing development.

“We would come closer, but the fees still wouldn’t cover our costs,” he said.

Second, Pederson said he hopes to establish a 3 percent technology fee to purchase permit tracking software that will make the office more efficient, cut the time it takes to process permits and allow the public to see what stage their application is at.

Thirdly, Pederson said he hopes increased revenues from permit fees will allow his office to maintain or enhance the current level of service. He admits that there’s a “big backlog” in processing land-use permits, though his staff has caught up on the building permit side.

Unfortunately, an employee in the building permit office will be laid off under proposed budget cuts.

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