Talk of the county’s increasing its manufactured-home building permit fee by 20 percent had some last week noting that Brookings increased its fees by 100 percent in May.
Those fees are being implemented over a four-year period, said City Manager Janell Howard.
“We were something like 100 percent behind the state numbers,” she said. “We’d have to double ours to catch up with the state.”
Permits are based on home valuations, the average home would see about a 10 percent increase Howard said. High-end homes will see substantial increases.
“There’s only a few properties that would (be affected) by that,” Howard said of million-dollar homes. “That’s something we haven’t seen a building permit pulled for in forever.”
Brookings Building Official Garrett Thomson failed in November to increase inspection fees for manufactured homes, which costs $200 and hasn’t been increased since 2012, he said. He had proposed to bump them up to $384 to pay for the costs of four inspections and associated staff time.
The city council expressed its concern that manufactured homes are often what is purchased by first-time homebuyers, and to increase the costs to build one could further exacerbate the tight housing situation here.
“I realize we’re only talking $184,” said Councilor Ron Hedenskog. “However, I’ve been advocating to keep down the costs of housing since the day I walked onto this council.”
He also noted that if staff and Thomson work three to four hours one project, that department is getting $100 an hour, more than any other in the city.
He said he’d like to see the mathematical reasoning behind such an increase.
Thomson said plan reviews take about an hour and inspections — the foundation, installation, skirting and a final — add another two hours. He also noted in the meeting that his proposed increase would bring the city up to the rates charged by the county.
“Just because they charge more doesn’t mean these people can raise their prices,” Hedenskog said, using gasoline prices in town as an example. “That argument may be valid in some places, but not with me.”
Councilor Bill Hamilton said he hears continually from citizens that it’s too expensive to build in Brookings.
“It’s all I hear from my constituents,” he said. “I’m not of the mind of going up because the county goes up.”
Councilor Brent Hodges, himself in the building industry, sided with Thomson, noting that Brookings’ rates are low compared to other places and that more work, time and personnel are involved in the inspection process.
“This is an example of the city not paying its own way,” he said. “You end up taking it out of a budget somewhere else. I actually think this is too low.”
Mayor Jake Pieper agreed, noting that if fees don’t cover the cost of doing the work, the city will end up subsidizing the department from other sources.
“If it costs us this much money to do this, that’s what the builder needs to be charged,” he said.
Two motions — one by Hedenskog to increase the fee by $100 and another offered by Hodges to approve the resolution as written — failed. Councilor Dennis Triglia then proposed the council reject the entire resolution, which was approved on a 3-2 vote.