Rising cost of permits

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By ERIN MAYES

People who want to dig a well, conduct a traffic study or even light off some fireworks in Tuolumne County might soon pay more for permits.

As it stands now, county employees put in far more work than is covered by permit fees paid to the Public Works, Community Development or Environmental Health Departments, said Public Works Director Peter Rei.

But the county must cover more of its costs, Rei said at Thursday's Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors Planning Committee meeting.

Public Works Business Manager Randy Murphy spent the last two years working on a county fee study, which hasn't been done since 1992.

The study showed that the county road fund is spending $220,000 more in salaries than it receives in application fees.

One example is the traffic study Rei's department conducted for the proposed 897-unit subdivision at Mountain Springs.

Developers paid $1,118.75.

Rei has no estimate for the actual price, but said the developer payment doesn't even begin to cover the costs for the hundreds of hours his staff spent doing the work. For every dollar his department spends on these services, he said, that's a dollar less that can be used for roads.

There are a variety of fees charged for county services, and preapplication services are free.

Preapplications are conceptual plans for projects that county departments comment on for an applicant's benefit.

Murphy said he found that it costs $1,593.50 in staff time and supplies to process one preapplication.

He proposes a $500 fee. Although this fee would only cover one third of the cost, it would allow the department to recover part of its expense.

Under Rei and Murphy's proposal, people would be charged a $204.75 fee when applying for a dedicated road and public utility easement. For a street-name change, it would cost $236 an increase of $88.25.

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The Union Democrat
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