Columbia Council holds first hearing on 2013 budget plan

Monday, August 20, 2012 | 3:48 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A host of fee increases for city services, programs and utilities are included in the proposed budget for fiscal 2013, which is the subject of a public hearing at Monday's meeting of the Columbia City Council.

The fee changes include changes in the cost of building permits, immunizations,  parking in city garages, parks and recreation programs and bills for water, sewer and electricity.

Here is a summary of the changes being proposed by bills on the council's agenda:

Building permit fees

One bill would boost the price of residential and commercial building permits by changing the way the cost is calculated. Currently, residential permit fees are based on the square footage of the structure, but City Manager Mike Matthes wants to base them on property value. He is proposing a uniform fee of $2.25 per $1,000 estimated project value..

The new fees also would be based on current valuation data instead of the 1991 data that has been used to date. A report to the council noted that the valuation of the average construction project would increase 252 percent as a result. 

The changes would mark the first increase in building permit fees since 1996. They are part of an effort by city officials to recover 75 percent of the cost of review and inspection costs through building permit fees. 

City officials estimate the higher building permit fees would generate an additional $826,000 in revenue in fiscal 2013.

Health department fees

Another bill would raise fees for state-provided vaccines administered by the Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services. The immunization fee for state-provided vaccines would rise to $20 from $15, while the surcharge for a tuberculosis skin test would increase to $15 from $10. The cost of a well-woman exams would continue to be based on one's income, but the cost of STD clinic visits would rise to $15 from $10 for Boone County residents and to$30 from $20 for non-Boone County residents.

The Health Department also is recommending that annual inspection fees for food establishments be raised to $60, a $20 increase, depending on the business's gross receipts, and that annual inspection fees for tattoo establishments be increased to $150 from $100.

City officials estimate those changes would add $69,790 in revenue in fiscal 2013.

Parks and recreation fees

The budget also proposes several increases in fees for programs and activities offered by the Parks and Recreation Department, ranging from day camp to tennis leagues. 

The following fees would be increased: youth activity fees, adult activity fees and daily admission and membership fees for the Activity and Recreation Center. Admission fees would be lowered by $1 for the Little Mates Cove and Lake of Woods aquatic facilities.

The amendment would add new fees for the use of the ARC and city golf courses. The use of parks for ticketed events would require a $100-per-acre reservation fee and a $1 or $2 fee for every ticket sold, depending on the ticket cost.

City officials estimate those new fees would generate $67,200 in revenue in fiscal 2013.

Parking fees

Higher fees for parking in city garages also are proposed. Costs would increase $5 for a monthly permit, $15 for a quarterly permit and $55 for a yearly permit at the Cherry and Walnut streets garages. The council estimates those changes would raise $87,500 in revenue in fiscal 2013.

Utility bills

Several changes in utility bills, some already approved by voters, are included in the budget.

  • Residents would see a 5 percent increase in their water bills, costing an average $1.41 per month. This is the third of four increases of water utility rates to pay for a water bond issue passed in November 2008. The budget would also raise tap fees, a fee on each tap made on the water main. Tap fees for 1-inch meters would rise to $500 from $160; those for 1.5- to 2-inch meters would remain at $250; and those for meters 4 inches and larger would rise to $575 from $500.
  • The monthly residential electricity charge would rise to $8.45 from $7.20 per kilowatt hour. The average rate for non-electric residential heating would increase 1.47 percent; for all-electric, 1.78 percent; and for heat pumps, 2.15 percent. The security deposit for new residential customers of electrical service would rise to $75 from $65.
  • Sewage service fees would increase by 15 percent, costing residents an average of $3.16 per month. This is the fifth sewage service rate increase in the past five years, part of an effort to pay for an April 2008 revenue bond package to construct sewer improvements.

Fees would also be increased for the disposal of sludge from wastewater treatment plants, stabilization ponds, chemical toilets, domestic holding tanks, septic tanks and grease traps.

New collection rates downtown

The budget also calls for raising refuse collection rates in the Downtown Solid Waste District and making the boundaries of that district match those of the Community Improvement District. It also would outlaw dumping construction waste in trash bins and compactors in the Downtown Solid Waste District.

The council thinks that change would raise about $24,000 in fiscal year 2013.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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