More than 50 types of Manatee County building fees could soon be reduced by as much as 20 percent.
The county’s building and development services department is requesting the fees be reduced, mostly within the 6-20 percent range, according to Tuesday’s commission meeting agenda materials. The commission is being asked to approve the reduction in fees, which would go into effect Aug. 1.
“Our fees are based on the actual cost of performing the task,” said John Barnott, the building and development services department director. “We’ve become very efficient.”
The fee for driveway permits, which is a shared revenue fee between building and development services and public works departments, is the one fee that is being proposed to increase, from $130 to $169, according to agenda materials.
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Since the department doesn’t receive any tax dollars, everything is based on fees, according to Barnott.
“I have to operate off the fees I collect,” he said. “If you become more efficient, you can lower your costs.”
The county studies the fees every two years. The last fee reduction was in 2013, when more than 50 permit and inspection fees were reduced by 10 percent, according to agenda materials.
“We don’t create an artificial number,” Barnott said. “It is based on our actual cost of doing business. I think that is fair to the users of our services. ... If we pass on any savings along, I certainly hope the builders and contractors are passing those savings along to the potential home buyer.”
Everything is helpful as the costs are passed right along to the consumer, Jon Mast, chief executive officer of the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association, said of the proposed fee reduction.
“It is good to see that they are reducing their rates on some of their fees,” Mast said. “Permit fees are a direct result of actual business that occurs and proportionally many of these fees are much better than what they were.”
While the proposed fee reductions come just a few months after the county’s increased impact fee schedule went into effect, there is no relation whatsoever, Barnott said.
“The building and development services is run like a business just like any business out there in the private sector,” he said. “We are going to continue to run it like a business. What it actually costs me to do business is going to be what we charge the customer.”
Since most inspectors have multiple licenses, they can now send one inspector to a job site for multiple inspections, which is more efficient than having to send multiple inspectors, Barnott said, adding that they are doing all of this with half the amount of people they had in 2008.
“The folks in the building and development services department on the building side have worked extremely hard to provide a level of service to our customers,” he said. “These employees have worked very hard to create this efficient operation.”