Building Department Fees to Rise in 2013
Change to fees reflects comparative analysis with surrounding communities
Contractors, homeowners and developers making structural changes to buildings in Kent are going to see higher processing fees for inspections, permits and plan reviews from the city in 2012.
Kent City Council voted to approve a schedule of fee changes that apply to new residential structures, existing residential, new commercial and multi-dwelling buildings, existing commercial structures and new multi-family dwellings.
Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said city officials examined the fee structure in surrounding communities such as Stow, Ravenna, Streetsboro and Portage and Summit Counties to see how Kent compared.
"To make sure Kent is kind of charging market rates," Ruller said. "We don't want to be undercharging given all the development interest."
But in many cases Kent appeared to be below the curve on building fees.
Kent's building fees for those six categories of construction were the lowest of the five comparison communities in four of six categories. Kent had the lowest building fee rates in every category except for existing commercial buildings, where it was the second lowest, and new multi-family structures, where it was the third-lowest, according to the city's comparison.
When tallying all types of building fees — plumbing, HVAC, electrical and building — Kent's totals were the lowest in every category of construction except for new multi-family structures.
The current and proposed fee totals for all types in Kent break down as follows:
|Fees||New Residential||Existing Residential||New Commercial & Multi-Dwelling||Existing Commercial||Multi-Family|
|% Change||61+ percent||65+ percent||118+ percent||140+ percent||30+ percent|
Editor's note: the complete comparison chart and fee schedule change are both attached to this article as .pdf files.
Kent Community Development Department Director Bridget Susel said the goal of the fee increases is not to make the city whole for its costs associated with the building process.
"Our goal is to cover some of our administrative costs," she said. "Part of a city’s job is to inspect and issue permits. Our fees are fairly low. We actually have contractors who come in to our counter and say ‘Really, that’s all it costs?'"
The fee structure change includes some exemptions.
Kentites who are 65 or older and disabled residents who are completing needed repairs or modifications to existing structures are exempted. And the new structure includes special, reduced rates for residents making necessary electrical, HVAC, and water heater repairs to owner-occupied units.
Council voted unanimously to approve the fee changes during committee meetings last week. A final vote on the fee changes will take place Dec. 19.
Councilwoman Heidi Shaffer said addressin the issue now is appropriate given the millions of dollars in redevelopment happening in Kent.
"It just looks like we’re really behind the times on this," Shaffer said. "I kind of wish we’d brought it up a couple of years ago."