County ups fees for developers | AspenTimes.com

County ups fees for developers

Allyn Harvey

With sales tax revenues in the dumps and property tax revenues stagnant, Pitkin County is increasing the fees it charges to developers and builders.

On Wednesday, the Pitkin County commissioners voted to raise the cost of contracting licenses by approximately 20 percent. They also agreed to an entirely new fee structure at the community development department.

The one-time increase for contracting licenses is the first in five years, according to Tony Fusaro, the county’s chief building official.

The cost to hold the broadest license in the construction industry, a general contracting license, will increase to $265 from $220. General contractors who limit their work to residential developments will have to pay $100, up from $80.

Subcontractors, in trades like plumbing, roofing, concrete or drywall, will also need to pay $100 a year to work in Pitkin County.

The biggest change, however, involves land-use-application fees.

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County policy has long called for the community development department to be revenue neutral, covering labor, space and supply costs through its fee structure. In recent years, however, fee collections have fallen far short of the actual cost of running the department.

Community Development Director Cindy Houben and her managers came up with the new schedule of fees to make up the difference – about $600,000 per year, according to figures presented earlier this year.

“It’s part of our effort to make development pay for itself,” Houben said.

Changes to the long list of fees include both cuts and increases.

The rates are $210 per hour for services, which covers the cost of the planner, administrative support, copying and computer time, utilities, paper and other supplies involved with handling an application.

The fees vary from a high of $4,620 for the work involved with ushering a proposed subdivision through the approval process to $25 for the costs associated with public-notice requirements for public hearings.

There is a provision in the fee ordinance that allows fees to be reduced or waived, at Houben’s discretion, for instances where the amount of work that goes into processing an application is substantially less than anticipated.

Wednesday’s vote on the fees was the first reading. A public hearing has been scheduled for the next regular meeting of the county commissioners on Dec. 18.

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