Canal Winchester officials hope to keep the city competitive for developers by reducing some development fees while increasing others to keep up with rising inspection costs.
Development Director Lucas Haire introduced changes to the current development fee schedule during the Dec. 2 city council meeting. Council heard a first reading of the ordinance then and members anticipate voting under emergency rules to suspend the third reading at the final council meeting of the year Dec. 16.
According to Haire, Canal Winchester has found itself over the past year collecting fee amounts that are just below what inspectors charged the city to do the work, prompting this change.
"We've dropped some of the rates but the fees have had to be adjusted so we don't get into a deficit-type spending situation where it costs us more to pay the inspector than the fee we collect," Council President Steve Donahue said. "We haven't upped any of these in years."
Councilwoman Bobbie Mershon favored the rate changes, but said she is concerned about the frequency with which they've been monitored.
"Is there any mechanism we can put in place so we don't go another 14 years before we look at these again?" she asked.
"We make these changes and then we forget about it. I've been on council since 1990 and we always end up in the same boat, so if we can trigger a review somehow, that would help."
Haire said that in the past, the city has used "auto-escalators" for the rates but that has a tendency to make the fees too high. Recently, the city removed auto-escalation clauses for wastewater and water usage fees in order to remain competitive with neighboring communities.
"We used to have the fees spread across all sorts of parts of our code, but now that we have them all in one place under the fee schedule, we should be able to keep up to date," Haire said. "We've had fees with auto-escalators which sometimes got too high, so I don't like using that system, but we can look at what else we might be able to do."
If approved by council, the rate changes include: a reduction in certain accessory structure fees; a normalization of residential fees at $60 to replace the current blend of $42 and $60 rates; and an increase in the fees for civil engineering plan reviews.