Fee increases for developers in city leaders’ hands

Monday, April 19, 2010 at 2:13am

Metro Council will decide this week whether to increase building permit and other construction-related fees by 30 percent.

The proposed fee hike, to be considered on third reading, follows a year-long study from a consulting firm that determined Metro hadn’t been collecting a sufficient level of dollars through fees administered to acquire building, plumbing, electrical and other permits.

“When you have an economic downturn, you have less construction, you have fewer permits, and you have less revenues,” Terrence Cobb, director of the codes department, has previously told The City Paper. “That was driving the revenue line down, and drove it down at a faster rate than the decline in expenditures.”

With the fee increase, Nashville’s rates would fall within the range of similarly sized cities such as Charlotte, N.C and Birmingham, Ala.

According to Cobb, Metro’s fees are monitored constantly to ensure dollars are collected in an equitable fashion to carry out services. Though Metro currently finds itself with a fee shortage, he said the department had been over-collecting four years ago.

“From what Mr. Cobb says, if there’s no change in fees, we’ll run about a $2 million deficit for each of the next couple of years unless the economy dramatically turns around,” said Councilman Eric Crafton, who works as a homebuilder. “While I hate to have higher fees on an industry that’s already down, if that’s the cost of providing the services, then we may have to look at an increase.”

Crafton said his support for the increase would come with one caveat. “When the economy turns around then we need to look at rolling the fees back,” he said.

Councilman Jamie Hollin, meanwhile, said he doesn’t know which way he’ll vote on the fee-increase ordinance, but expressed some concerns.

“I hope it doesn’t have a negative impact for businesses wanting to come to Nashville,” Hollin said. “I don’t think we charge that high of fees in the surrounding counties.”


2 Comments on this post:

By: EDUNITED on 4/19/10 at 6:45

Why shouldn't Cobb downsize his department to reflect the declining need for government services? If he cannot understand the concept that less is needed from his department, then he should be replaced for being a poor steward of those resources available.

Ed vanVoorhees

By: willtw on 4/19/10 at 8:58

So now, private enterprise must bear the burden for a down side in collecting more revenue for a government agency? Makes absolutely no sense to raise revenue from businesses who are hurting just because a municipal body cannot make ends meet! Banks are not lending construction money and resisting high end mortgages...why not then penalize them on their hold back of business funding? Resales are up in Nashville BUT new home construction-sales are in the toilet! New construction provides NEW MONEY while resales swap dollars. New home sales generate on average jobs in the several hundreds per unit. Isn't it reasonable for government agencies to downsize also? So, fees for site development kick in...WHO pays for this increase? Ultimately the buyer of that new home, further depressing an already depressed market....what does Nashville do? They force thru an almost $1 billion dollar "porkus money dump/convention center" in a time of severe money woes...Keep piling it on City Council and when the developers close down, more builders leave town, each of you can then sell popcorn and peanuts in the new meeting place! What a load of bovine scatology!