By Mac Christie, Times-Advocate Staff
VARNA – Bluewater council gave the OK to several increases in building permit fees at a recent meeting.
The council increased rates to ensure full cost recovery for the building department, said chief building official Tim Masse.
That cost recovery includes the direct and indirect costs of administration and enforcement of the Building Code Act, based upon a three average of revenue and costs.
The main reason for this increase was a shortfall in 2011 of around $50,000 in the building department. The department only brought in $136,254 last year, while having costs of $186,690.
While 2011 was the first year there was a major shortfall, an $87,000 building permit in 2010 prevented a $64,000 deficit.
Among the costs increased were new residential building and additions, commercial additions and septic installations.
In the case of residential permits, the cost increased from a flat rate of $1,875 per 3,000 sq. ft., plus 63 cents per additional square foot, to a flat rate of $2,700 and a fee of 90 cents per additional square foot.
Meanwhile, commericial additions increased $600 per permit from $1,125 per 2,500 sq. ft. to $1,875. The cost also increased for additional square footage over 2,500 from 45 cents per square foot to 75 cents.
The cost for a minor commercial addition also increased from $375 to $1,125 and the cost tripled from 15 cents per additional square foot to 45 cents.
In septic systems, the cost increased from $375 for a new installation to $500, and for an alteration doubled from $125 to $250. Both of these costs are comparable to South Huron’s fee structure.
While Stanley East Coun. Dave Roy worried the increased fees could prevent expansion, Councillor-at-Large Tyler Hessel said the alternative would be adding the number to the budget.
“I don’t think the taxpayers should be paying the difference,” he said.
Zurich Coun. Janisse Zimmerman agreed, noting they’re in line with other municipalities.
“I hate to see them go up, but I think we’re right in the ballpark,” she said.
However not all building permit fees increased, as the costs for industrial permits decreased by as much as $2,000 in some cases and the costs for farm buildings remained the same.
Council also struck down a proposed increase in wind turbine building permits from $375 to $3,125, leaving the municipality without a building permit fee for turbines.