Possible building fee increase next year
The Park City Building Department is considering increasing fees sometime next year in order in an effort to recover some of its costs. The ideas is in consideration of taxpayers, according to Park City Building Official Chad Root.
The Building Department is not generating enough revenue to manage itself efficiently without taking money from City Hall’s General Fund, a pot of money divvied up between departments.
He said that the whole thought behind it is to try to get the Building Department to the point where it funds itself rather than taxpayers funding development.
"The main purpose behind [a possible fee increase] is, if you own a home and there is a vacant lot next to it, you don’t want your tax money subsidizing that construction," Root said.
The person that pays the building fees is ultimately the homeowner or the owner of the project. Root said that a lot of times the contractor will pay the fee for the project, but they recoup the cost by charging it down to the owner of the project.
The possible fee increase is also to make Park City comparable to other mountain resort towns like Vail, Colo. or Jackson, Wyo. They each place a certain valuation on structures per square foot. Whatever the total valuation is, it is inserted into the Uniform Building Code (UBC) table, which determines how much the department will charge in building fees.
For example, Park City currently places a value of $137 per square foot on residential structures. If someone wants to build a 1,000-square-foot single-family residence, it comes out to a valuation of $137,000. According to the UBC table, the Building Department will charge $933.75 in building fees for the first $100,000 plus $5.60 for each additional $1,000.
Vail currently values structures at $371 per square foot, and Jackson charges anywhere from $140 to $450. Park City is considering increasing their charge from $137 to closer to what these other cities charge in order to increase the amount of building fees.
While Root realizes that any sort of fee increase will not get the Building Department up to 100 percent cost recovery, he hopes it will at least get up to 50 percent in order to not have to pull from the General Fund.
"The developers should be paying their fair share of the construction," Root said. "The fees are not increasing just yet, but if we were to increase it, it would just basically subsidize the department so we’re not relying off the taxpayers as much."
A structure such as a single-family residence in Park City costs much more to build than the same kind of structure in an area like the Salt Lake Valley. In a flat area, a couple of feet would be dug up and a foundation would be laid out for about $30,000. In Park City, there is extensive excavation that must be done to lay out a foundation, and that can cost around $1 million, Root said.
The fee increase would not just go toward building houses but commercial properties as well, Root said.
Rather than offering faster plan review for a little extra money and putting off other plans submitted by people who might not have the extra money to do so, Root argued that increasing building fees is the fairest option.
"The important thing is that we have not done anything this year," Root said. "What I am looking at is just numbers to run the department and make sure that we have vehicles and the equipment that we need for conducting inspections in the field, to make sure that it is quality building stock for the city."
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