Friday, October 22, 2010

County ups land-use application fees

Fees for daycare permits, floodplain construction rise

Express Staff Writer

Some land-use permit fees will go up next week, the Blaine County commissioners decided yesterday.

The commissioners voted to approve a hike in application fees for several permits, including those for daycare centers and construction in a floodplain. Most application fees, such as those for accessory dwelling units and most other conditional-use permits, will remain the same.

Applicants for all building permits will need to pay a minimum of $40 and up to all costs of publishing legal notices or display ads, if the application requires such notice. Costs of publication had previously been rolled into application fees, but the county will now charge for publication separately.

The fee changes are a reflection of the gap between how much an application costs the county to process and how much the county charges the applicant, said county staffer Megan Stelma.

"It costs the county and the taxpayers a lot for these applications to go through," Stelma said. "We're simply looking at the cost that the county sees, the staff time [and] the hearing examiner time."

Much of the gap is due to the amount the hearing examiner, contracted from outside county staff, charges the county for permit applications such as those for daycare businesses. According to a county Land Use and Building Services staff report, the hearing examiner charges an average of $1,100 per daycare permit application, but the county charges only a $100 fee.

"We don't want to raise the fee to $1,000 ... but if we're only charging $100—that's a pretty big hit for taxpayers," Stelma said.

Commission Chair Larry Schoen said the hike in fees is an attempt to "find a mean" between cost to the county and what fees keep permit applications accessible.

The new fee schedule can be found on the county website,, under the Land Use and Building Services heading, or at the Land Use and Building Services office in Hailey. The higher fees will go into effect Oct. 27.

Katherine Wutz:

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