TNRD board torn between user-pay, taxation but decides building permit fees will go up

NEWS/ TNRD — Increases to building permit fees are on the way in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District after directors approved recommendations from staff today.

BuildThe board, meeting in committee of the whole, was told building bylaw fees haven’t been raised in 18 years but revenues have grown due to construction cost increases.

The fees include permits and building inspections during construction. A report from development services director Regina Sadlikova said some jurisdictions have lowered their fees while others have increased them.

While building permit fees often generate a profit in large urban areas, they generally don’t cover costs in rural areas and are subsidized by taxation, said Sadlikova.

“Over the past three years we have adjusted the balance between reserve and taxation so as to maintain the fund at a modest level well into the future. Any annual surplus from either savings or revenues is shifted to this reserve.”

The current bylaw charges $6 per $1,000 value to $100,000 plus $5 per $1,000 after that. An increase to $8 per $1,000 to $100,000 plus $5 per $1,000 would hike the fees from $1,259 to $1,457, minus surcharge refunds, for a small home valued at an $183,000.

Directors were divided on whether fees should be raised at all, and by how much.

“The core of the issue is how much is user pay and how much is taxation,” said Kamloops director Ken Christian, suggesting two-thirds from the applicant and a third from taxation “is probably not a bad split.”

John Ranta of Cache Creek disagreed. “I can’t see anything wrong with being at the low end,” he said. He liked a 50-50 split. “I’m having a struggle with the initiative to raise fees.”

Area J director Ronaye Elliott warned against raising fees higher than Kamloops charges, pointing out that “90 per cent” of contractors in the region are from the city and rural areas depend on them.

The TNRD handles building permits and inspections for rural areas and seven member municipalities not including Kamloops.

Some directors felt inspectors should be distributed around the region to reduce travel costs, but CAO Sukh Gill said, “We can’t dictate to people where they live.”

Kamloops director Marg Spina favoured gradual increases rather than doing them all at once.

“We’re hearing everything around the board but we need some direction,” said Gill.

The board adopted a staff recommendation that includes increasing the permit fees from $6 to $8 per $1,000 for the first $100,000 value of the project, and increasing the maximum refundable permit surcharge from $200 to $500 to encourage applicants to call for inspections and complete the job.

The motion will come back to a regular board meeting for ratification.

About Mel Rothenburger (9358 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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