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Wellesley council votes to raise building department fees

Attempting to recover more of its costs in order to break even this year, Wellesley’s building department will raise some of its fees for 2013. The increases were the subject of a public meeting March 4 in township council chambers.

Councillors ultimately approved the recommendations put forward by chief building official Rik Louwagie, but not without expressing some concerns beforehand.

Coun. Herb Neher challenged over some of the fee increases, asking Louwagie to justify the more drastic increases to specific services listed in the report.

“It seems in some of these areas, it’s increased by 20 to 30 per cent,” Neher said.

Louwagie explained that unlike most years when fees would be increased by a set percentage across the board, this year staff looked at each service individually.

“With some of [the services] the workload doesn’t change, where with others it does. Rather than doing a percentage increase we looked at each category individually and determined the workload involved for the type of permit. We compared that to other municipalities as well to make sure that we were not going over anybody else but also so that we weren’t extremely far below everybody else,” he said.

Louwagie also said that the fees proposed that night were consistent with those offered by other municipalities in the region. He admitted some specific charges were approaching the higher end of the scale. but a few fees were also reduced from the previous year.

Building permit fees in the township have seen increases for the past two years, but prior to those fees remained unchanged for six years, Louwagie added.

The amendment will insure that the operation of the building department is funded by the fees without dipping into tax revenues, he maintained.

The building department has prepared a preliminary estimate compiling its expenditures from the previous year and found they did not break even, having to take approximately $4,000 from reserve funds to cover last year’s expenses.

This year’s budget, he told council, aims for better results at the end of 2013 with a goal to break even while adding no money to reserves.

“All building fees, we try to set them so they will cover all costs of the building department, direct and indirect.”

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