Victoria City Council expected to increase fees for five departments

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Nov. 30, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.
Updated Dec. 3, 2012 at 6:03 a.m.

Building a new home or business in Victoria is about to get a little more expensive.

Permitting fees are set to increase in 2013, as are meter connection fees, as a result of the new automated meter readers.

Victoria City Council is expected to vote Tuesday to increase fees for five departments, including development services, parks and recreation, the library, fire department and public works.

Public Works Director Lynn Short said the meter connection fees are increasing largely because of the upgraded meters.

"They cost more money than the old-style meters do," Short said.

The increase will help the department recover its cost whenever a new service comes in.

"A lot of the other fees increased a little, too. It's primarily material cost," he said. "Prices fluctuate."

The fee increase is not connected to water bills, so people with house meters right now will not see an increase.

"It's fees for services you might request if you're building a new home," Short said.

Assistant City Manager John Kaminski said the increases are up to each department to adjust.

"It's our general policy to review our fees every year and determine if there's a need for any adjustment," Kaminski said.

While some fees are adjusted annually, others are not.

"It just depends on the nature of the fee and the nature of the service that's provided," Kaminski said. "The cost of providing just about every service increases with time."

He said the goal is to have the new fees in place by the beginning of 2013.

Commercial building permits are also expected to see significant increases.

Development Services Director Jared Mayfield gave a simple explanation to the increase: "Cost goes up every year."

He said the city needs to offset the cost of having inspectors check buildings to make sure they are safe and meet code, as well as to keep Victoria in line with comparable cities' fees.

"Our commercial fees were severely under what other cities were charging," Mayfield said. "We don't increase our fees just because Austin charges more. We discovered that we were bringing in less than 50 percent, significantly less than what it costs to provide those services."

Commercial building fees were increased to $80 from $40 for a building valued up to $1,000. Permits for buildings with values exceeding $500,001 were increased to $1,430.75 from last year's $1,375.

Residential building permits will see an increase to $350 from $325 on projects valued up to $50,000. Permits for higher-valued projects also increased.

The fees were adjusted last year as well.

Mayfield said after this, the fees should only see small adjustments in the future "to keep up with the cost of living and the cost of doing business."

Sign permitting fees increased, as did the fee for mechanical, electrical, plumbing and gas.

Parks and Recreation Director Doug Cochran said the department's costs increased to maintain the fields for lights, electricity, water and labor.

He recommends increasing fees to rent fields for sporting tournaments to $75 daily from $50 daily.

The department is also looking at increasing fees to rent the community center, booth fees at BootFest and renting Riverside Pavilion and Ethel Lee Tracy amphitheater and pavilion.

The library increased its late fees for electronic readers, iPads and laptop to $10 per hour and upped its maximum fine to $100 on those items.

Public Works is recommending increasing its meter connection fees and wastewater connection fees.

The new Victoria Fire Training Center is available for rent by public and private agencies for emergency response-related training classes. The base fee schedule is $125 per hour, with a two-hour minimum.



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