Paradise Valley Town Council fielding discussion on adjusting myriad fees

Paradise Valley Town Hall is at 6401 E. Lincoln Drive in the Town of Paradise Valley. (File photo)

Change may be coming to the Town of Paradise Valley’s planning, building, engineering and fire prevention fees in order to better reach full cost recovery on those services.

Some of those changes could lead to a potential increase in building permit fees, the condensing of several fees and decreasing of a few others.

However, town council will not make the final decision on those changes until its March 23 meeting, but is making its intentions public now in order to comply with an state law requirements.

That statute requires municipalities to alert the public of any new or increased fees via its website 60 days prior to the action. The notification has been on the website since Monday, Jan. 23.

Nothing is set in stone on how the fees will adjust but Director of Administration and Government Affairs Dawn Marie Buckland said the whole purpose is to reach full cost recovery.

“We’re not trying to make money, but at the same time, we’re not trying to subsidize private activities either,” she said during a Jan. 31 phone interview.

At a Jan. 26 council study session, town staff presented the results of a review by Willdan and Associates, which provided several solutions to help the town reach full cost recovery.

Willdan found it beneficial for the town to condense fees from a “cafeteria-style list of fees for each fixture” to a single flat rate fee for a plumbing permit, a mechanical permit or an electrical permit, the memo states.

The memo also states “other planning, building, engineering and fire inspection fees have been calculated to reflect the average actual cost to process these activities.”

Ms. Buckland said Willdan’s findings indicate some of these fees might actually go down because of adjustments or changes in industry standards.

Another finding was a potential 5.2 percent increase on building permit fees, based on if the town were to recover its full cost.

However, if building valuation was increased, Ms. Buckland said the percentage would likely drop as well since the town is not looking to make any money on the fees.

The current base fee under the building valuation of $150 per square foot is $23.50. Then, there is a tiered structure to address additional time and complexity that typically correlates to higher value projects. The rate for every $1,000 in value decreases after $25.000

Strictly for consistency in reporting, staff floated the possibility of assuming a default building value of $400 per square foot but councilman Scott Moore said he thinks it should be closer to $250 per square foot. Council did not make a decision on building valuation.

Ms. Buckland said if council were to decide to change building valuation, the end goal would still be the same.

“At the end of the day, we want to recover the same fees,” Ms. Buckland said during the Jan. 26 meeting. “We’re really talking about the same impact, but how do we look at the valuation for our own reporting purposes.”

The last time the town reviewed its fees was in 2008, when it increased fees by 3.4 percent, according to Ms. Buckland.

“This has been a great effort on behalf of staff throughout the entire town and our consultant working together to figure out what exactly are our cost of processes are right now, what are current processes are and making sure this reflects very relevant data,” she said during the Jan. 26 meeting.

Ms. Buckland said the next discussion town staff is going to have is about certain policy aspects regarding projects. She said staff will try to produce examples of how fee change would impact various projects prior to the March 23 meeting.

At the March 23 meeting, council has the option to adopt the maximum fee or any fee lower than specified, Ms. Buckland said.

 

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