County building numbers on the rise
Summit County Building Official Robert Taylor wouldn’t call the rise in building permits this year a "boom" but he does predict strong growth in the coming years, especially on the West Side.
Budget revenue from building permits was anticipated to be $785,000 for 2013. As of the end of October, however, actual permit revenue collected has been over $1.3 million, Taylor said.
"I lived and worked in Summit County during the boom years from the late 1980s to the early 2000s," Taylor said. "If you are asking me if we are headed there again, my answer would be, ‘I don’t think so.’ The market conditions and lending practices today are different from the ones of the 1990s."
The county has budgeted for $900,000 in revenue from building permits for 2014. Taylor said this projected increase was made "in response to indicators we use to forecast future demand for our services." In meetings he has had with the Park City Area Homebuilders Association, Taylor said they many of the group’s members are booked with work for the next two years and unable to contract for more.
Geri Strand, Executive Director of the Park City Area HBA, said their builders are seeing a significant number of contracts, not only in 2013, but for 2014-15 as well. Some builders have seen a 100 percent increase in contracts, she said, while some have seen 50 percent increases.
Taylor said the 2014 increase in building permits cannot be attributed to any single project, though 2013’s numbers have been affected by large projects such as the Wyndham Vacation Resort hotel at Canyons Resort. Newpark Terrace, a pending 60-unit townhouse project on top of the parking garage at Newpark, will add more revenue for the future as well.
Strand noted that with the dramatic upswing in work for builders has come the struggle to have building inspections done in a timely fashion. She said she hopes the county considers increasing the number of building inspectors, which has a limited staff.
"It can be detrimental to a builder when you can’t get inspections," Strand said. "If you miss one, others are delayed."
To help make Summit County’s Community Development Department more self-sufficient, the county is considering the option of increasing building permit fees. Taylor said several years ago, the County Council decided to increase fees on an incremental basis after they found the county was collecting only 50 percent of the actual cost of providing its services.
"An increase was made three years ago and by ordinance this is the year that the Council will again consider the matter," Taylor said. "I, of course, cannot speak for what their decision may be."
Strand said the Park City Area HBA hopes the county decides not to increase building permit fees.
"The permits are there, the money is there. Now is the time to increase staff so that we can take care of all those permits that have already been pulled," Strand said.
The county has the option to subcontract building inspectors, which Strand offered as a suggestion along with increasing staffing.
"It’s been tough for the builders and subcontractors," Strand said. "We’re embracing this [growth] full-on here."
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