Ian Miranda installs a dishwasher in a newly built home in Coupeville. The town council voted to significantly lower fees, which were much higher than in nearby jurisdictions. (Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times)

Ian Miranda installs a dishwasher in a newly built home in Coupeville. The town council voted to significantly lower fees, which were much higher than in nearby jurisdictions. (Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times)

Town reduces building permit fees

Coupeville’s building official said he believed the town’s building permit fees were inexplicably high, and Tuesday the council rectified the disparity.

Coupeville Town Council lowered its fees after reading Rene Beliveau’s explanation for the proposed changes.

“He has been feeling, since he started working for us, that our fees are too high,” said Mayor Molly Hughes explained.

The biggest difference will be for single-family home permits. The town valued homes by multiplying $165 per square foot of the finished homes and using a fee schedule set in 2013.

The council agreed to use fees set by the International Residential Code, which is currently $118 per square foot.

The cost of a permit is based on the value of the finished home.

Island County establishes value by multiplying $120.75 per square foot of the finished areas of the home and adds other values, such as square footage of a garage or deck, according to Kelly Whitney, county building permit processing manager.

After a value is established, a fee is determined based on the estimate.

Permit fees are only meant to pay for acceptance, processing and issuing of a permit and inspections.

Beliveau’s recommended changes are more in line with the fees charged by the City of Langley and Island County.

Hughes said during the council meeting that she was in favor of the fee adjustment to be more compliant with Washington state law.

Town Planner Owen Dennison said he agreed the lowered fees were more easily justifiable.

Permit fees shouldn’t generate a profit for municipalities, he said.

“I am much more comfortable with the new schedule,” Dennison told the council.

Council members unanimously approved the updated fee schedule as well as an ordinance to remove references to fees from the town code. The change will simplify the process of changing and updating fees to not require codification each time.

New fees will be set by the International Building and Fire codes, which are updated regularly.

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