Fee update stalls, and ‘potential realignment’ considered

Several months into it, a comprehensive update of City Hall’s various planning, engineering and fire prevention fees has stalled.

At a meeting last week of the Development Oversight Commission – the special panel of builders overseeing in part the fee update process – Community Development Director Mike Niblock said new Deputy City Manager Mike Locke requested officials put the brakes on the study.

In one draft report of the study, a consultant recommended various fee changes, which would result in a net increase in revenue of $392,375.

Reached yesterday, Locke said that the impending elimination of redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones (state lawmakers appear close to ending those programs to help balance the state budget) could result at City Hall in a “potential realignment of the organization.”

So it wouldn’t make sense to change fees in, say, April, and then “change the structure of personnel” afterward, Locke said.

The stalled fee study, it should be noted, has not been expensive, at least in city budget terms: The city’s cost has been about $9,000 so far.

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Another note on the study: The consultant has estimated that there is up to $791,269 in city staff work that could be charged to taxpayers (via the general fund) instead of to developers (via fees).

Last week, builders worried that by tabling the fee study, they might lose a chance for the council to consider during this budget cycle  whether the general fund should be picking up more of the tab.

So they passed a resolution to have the council consider, with no specific amount, shifting some of the burden to the general fund.

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