Brookings City Council is planning to discuss building and mechanical permit fee changes the public works department is recommending which, if approved, will make the cost of building in town more expensive.

The discussion is scheduled for a 4 p.m. work session April 4 at city hall. No decisions can be made in a work session; any changes would be discussed when the council meets to make changes to the master fee schedule.

Many citizens have complained about the cost of building in the city, often noting the paucity of construction activity despite the near-desperate need for attainable housing.

“Building department fees have not been changed since 2010,” said city Building Official Garrett Thomson in a report to the council. “Annual costs with providing the service are approximately $195,443, while revenues are only $38,873. To keep the building department solvent, the rates should be increased to align with the rest of the county.”

The proposed increase would raise the price of a residential building permit for a new single-family home an average of $880, set a minimum building permit fee of $84 and increase the minimum mechanical permit from $21 to $84.

Mechanical permits are for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, wood and gas stove systems. Thomson said he originally wanted to increase that to $50, but was instructed to align it with what county charges.

“It started with mechanical permits,” Thomson said. “People were saying they were well below what they’re used to seeing. I looked at that, and one thing led to another; come to find out all the fees are outdated. It prompted me to catch up, with mechanical fees, particularly.”

Building permit fees in Brookings are based on the amount of the total valuation of the project and currently range from $24 for a project valued at up to $500 and $18,327 for projects valued at $5 million.

In 2016-17, new projects in town were valued at a total of $4.9 million and cost $23,736 in fees; so far this fiscal year, project values have totalled $5.08 million, resulting in fee revenue of $20,814.

Today, a permit for a home and garage — garages or carports are required within the city limits — valued at $250,000, for example, would cost $1,027 for the first $100,000 valuation and $7 for each additional $1,000, for a total permit fee of of $2,077.

Under the proposed fee change, a permit for that home would cost $3,677.

The figure doesn’t include System Development Charges the city charges that pay for water, sewer, storm drains, streets and parks, and that cost $18,426.

“That one’s a big one,” Thomson said. “A little bit of sticker shock comes with that one.”

The permitting system is based on confusing calculations and now, at the state level, through an e-permitting process Brookings doesn’t yet have, he added.

Rates used in that system are based on building values provided by the International Code Council and updated every six months, Thomson said. Oregon, however, can’t keep up with that, and updates its system every three years. Currently, he said, the state is operating with figures from February 2017.

If the changes are approved when the city considers its master fee schedule, the building and mechanical fees will reflect those of the state e-permitting system.

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