Barnwell considers raising building permit fees

The city of Barnwell is considering raising its building permit fees to handle the cost of contracting out its building inspections.

The city had a provisional commercial building inspector for several years in Tony Dicks, who did the task in addition to his duties as the city fire chief.

However, Dicks did not want to continue the annual recertifications necessary for him to remain the city's building inspector, said John Zawacki, the Barnwell city administrator.

Dicks has been doing two jobs for the price of one, Zawacki said.

During the June 7 City Council meeting, Zawacki introduced a proposal from England Enterprises Inspection Services that would provide the city with building inspection services in place of Dicks.

The proposal was for information only to let City Council see the range of fees an outside agency would charge. The city has been soliciting proposals for inspection services.

City Council approved a first reading of an ordinance that would increase building permit fees and other permit fees in the city. Zawacki said these fees would now be comparable to other towns Barnwell's size.

The city kept the fees low in previous years because Dicks handled inspections.

The newly proposed bulding permit fees would include:

Total project valuation from zero to $500: a permit fee of $50;

From $1,001 to $50,000: a base fee of $50 plus $5 for each increment of $1,000.

From $50,001 to $100,000 $269 for the first $50,000 plus $4 for each additional $1,000.

From $101,000 to $500,000, a $460 base fee for the first $100,000 plus $3 for each additional $1,000.

From $501,000 and over, a $1,660 base fee for the first $500,000 plus $2 for each additional $1,000.

Also, other permit fees that could increase include: tenant change permit (to $50); change of occupancy classification permit, (to $100); manufactured home, (to $200); camper/RV pedestal, (to $50); moving a building, (to $150); demolition, (to $100); after hours inspections, (to $60 per hour with a two-hour minimum); sidewalk and driveway permits, (to $50).

Currently the fees are significantly less. Building permit fees now are $25 for the first $1,000 and an additional $3 for each $1,000 afterwards.

Inspection fees are now $35; a demolition permit is $25 for the first $1,000 and $3 for each additional $1,000 or fraction thereof. Building plan reviews are now one half of the required permit fee or a $75 minimum.

Other city business

City Council approved an amended policy of health insurance for retirees and elected officials. City Council also approved an amendment to the sick leave policy for employees and adopted a worker's compensation policy.

The recreation department reported a significant water line break at Lemon Park sports complex.

The recreation department and the city water department worked to repair the line break and the damage to one ballfield.

The leak created a hole in the field four feet in diameter and seven feet deep, Zawacki said.

Emily Randell, the recreation director, told council, three of the scheduled tournaments at Lemon Park had been cancelled, but her department might replace those tournaments with city-run ones.

The water damage to the ballfield did not cause the tournament cancellations.

Councilman J. T. Atkinson said he would have a report at the July meeting on a complaint the city received concerning the availability and safety of the handicap parking at Lemon Park.

The tourism and community development director, Lynn Cox, reminded City Council about the upcoming Third Thursday event in downtown Barnwell June 17 which will include musical entertainment and downtown shopping in the evening hours.