A change is under consideration in the fee structure for McMinnville Community Development Department for individuals seeking to obtain a building permit.
Currently, the city uses an honor system where the individual making the application estimates the value of the work being done.
Community Develop-ment director Nolan Ming says some people are lowballing estimates to reduce the permit fee.
“Permit fees are supposed to be based on evaluation and not estimated cost, which is what we’ve done in the past,” Ming said. “We are proposing to adopt the building evaluation data table from the International Code Council, which is produced every six months to be updated to the most recent numbers for cost of construction. Instead of taking the estimated cost, which is provided and usually extremely low and not even close, we are going to use this chart from the ICC. That’s something that jurisdictions can use to base their fees.”
The BVD table provides the average construction costs per square foot and it can be used in determining permit fees.
Ming’s request to make the switch from honesty based to a building evaluation data table was presented to the Building and Grounds Committee in with numerous other changes.
Committee members were given actual permit fees that have been charged based on estimated costs given, as well as what those permit fees would have been using square footage only. In every example, a low estimate was given, resulting in a less expensive permit fee.
“The way it is, it’s an invitation to mislead on what you are spending to do a project,” said Alderman Steve Harvey. “It’s always been that way. You see those reports and you see the permit. This takes that out of the equation and it’s based on a square foot price of what different types of construction cost rather than being based on what the contractor or whoever is getting the permit tells you it’s going to cost.”
Harvey said using square footage only to determine value would provide a financial savings for individuals constructing nicer homes but a financial loss to individuals constructing modest starter homes.
“There is one thing that bothers me,” said Harvey. “It’s one price for all houses based on size and it doesn’t matter how the house is built. If you’re building a really, really nice house, that’s a good number for you because it’s going to cost you more than that to build it. But, if you are building a starter home, you are getting charged a little more for your permit than you really should. I don’t know what you can do about that.”
Committee members tabled the request for further consideration.