Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Many User Fees to Go Up for 2013 in City of Easton

By Christina Georgiou

While the City of Easton has managed to hold the line on raising property taxes for the coming year, some will find the cost of doing business in the city a little more expensive in 2013.

A number of user fees will likely be going up next year, officials said at the city budget hearing Tuesday evening.

But even with the upcoming hikes, the city won't be making money on the deal, only trying to recoup some of the costs associated with providing some city services, such as building inspections.

"With a lot of these fees, we either break even or lose money," said Easton Finance Director Chris Heagele. "
Ideally, user fees should...equal the (city) costs. Still, these activities are being subsidized."

Some fee costs were raised in 2009, and those are not being raised again, Heagele said. Most of the hikes are related to city planning and zoning, and pertain to commercial properties.

"We have not done a substantial review during my tenure," said Heagele, who has worked for the City of Easton since 2008. "It's been at least 10 years."

Included on the list are:
  • Commercial/industrial buyer notification inspection fees, currently $125 to $250, will be $300 for the first 2,000 sq. feet, plus $50 for each additional 1,000 sq. feet, capped at $600
  • Uniform construction code  building fees will be raised by $40. Residential mechanical construction code fees will go up $40, commercial mechanical code fees will now be a minimum of $200, with the ultimate fee based on the amount of work being done.
  • Most plumbing inspection fees will be raised by 20 percent, from $40 to $50, though the cost of water heater inspections will go from $25 to $50.
  • The cost for a permit to move household or commercial goods will jump from $10 to $25.
  • The cost for a zoning hearing for a variance will jump from $50 to $200
  • The cost of pushcart vendor's license will go from $200 to $225, with additional vehicles going from $40 apiece to $75
  • A master plumber's license will be $100, up from $75 annually. A journeyman's license will be $75 annually, up from $50.
  • Food establishment licenses will all be raised by $25 per year. Those that pay more than 14 days late will be subject to a $300 late fee.
  • The initial application, license and inspection fee for tattoo parlors will jump from $250 to $500. Yearly inspection and license fees will go from $200 to $300.

A full list of the proposed fee schedule is available at the city clerk's office, on the sixth floor of Easton City Hall.

The introduction of the proposed changes is expected at this evening's city council meeting, with the council likely to vote on the matter in December, as part of the city's 2013 budget.

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