Council has first reading on changes to fees

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By Karolyn Gephart

Pearland City Council held the first reading for amending development and permit fees at their regularly scheduled Council meeting September 16 at City Hall.

Due to H.B. 852, passed during this year’s state legislative session, the City of Pearland is required to change the way residential construction permit fees are calculated.

According to City officials, a majority of Texas cities have used the valuation of the proposed project to determine the permit fees that would be charged. H.B. 852 states cities may no longer use this method.

The bill specifically prohibits cities from using the value of the dwelling, or the cost of constructing or improving the dwelling to determine the permit fee.

Additionally, cities cannot require the disclosure of information related to the value of or cost of construction as a condition to obtain a permit except where required to comply with FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, H.B. 852 states.

Staff in Permits and Inspections studied 14 area municipalities with every city going to a per square footage pricing structure. There was differing amounts based on the cities’ sizes. The staff used their findings to propose changes to Pearland’s Construction Permit Fee schedule.

The updated fee schedule also has proposed amendments to specific fees which have been identified as not accurately accounting for the amount of time and staff that participate in such inspections. Council was provided with an example: the City currently charges $50 for an Operating Certificate, but such inspections can take a minimum of three inspectors (without food) or up to six (with food preparation involvement).

Changes are proposed for Public Works and Engineering Fee Schedule in City Utility Easement which is new; Residential Permits; Mechanical; Electrical; Plumbing; Miscellaneous Permits and in some of what is considered Other Fees, specifically special inspection and temporary certificate of occupancy.

No changes are proposed for the Planning Fee Schedule or Construction Permit Fees other than in residential.

The first reading was also held on an ordinance amending non-development usage and service fees.

As a part of the annual budget process, City staff make necessary changes or additional in fees in order to cover the cost of services being provided.

The following changes are being proposed to the City’s Non-Development Fee Ordinance: Adjustment of Water & Sewer base rate multipliers to American Water Work Association (AWWA) standard; 1.6 percent  Water & Sewer Fund revenue increase; Updates to Independence Park and Southdown Park Rental Fees; Increasing Special Event Permit Fee to $1005; Increasing Family Day Pass to $18 and updating the definition of family and Updating Water Tap Fees based on Compensation & Classification study rates.

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