Proposed Fee Rate Hike For Contractors

Casper, Wyoming - As Casper City Council Members search for ways to tighten their belt, one suggestion is getting some traction. An increase in planning fees that hasn't been hiked for close to 40 years. Even though it's in discussion some kind of hike is expected.

Tuesday's City Council meeting proposed fee increases for permits to plan, build or engineer. These increases could be as high as 40 percent. If these increases are approved it would be the most significant increase in building fees since 1979.

“If you look at the discrepancy since 1979, that we haven't significantly raised fees and be in line with other municipalities around the state, including around the county.” said Ray Pacheco. “It certainly justifies that we're in-line and we're not doing anything that is crazy or doing anything that is going to be out of line.”

These increases aim to bring more revenue into the city following the bust.

“Unfortunately nobody likes to see anything be raised, fees or anything, but for me and, I think for a lot of council members, we'd rather see this than having to cut jobs,” said Pacheco

As of right now, council has been dipping into the nearly 4 million dollars in reserves to keep the budget afloat.

“How do we balance that, and balance the fact that we are going to have to use some of those reserves, but how can we back up a little bit,” Pacheco rhetorically asked.

K2 spoke with one contractor who said that he believed the rate increase was way too much to fast. He went on to say that he would rather have taxes increased so everybody can vote on the decision. However Dan Elston, Casper's Building Official, said the increase wouldn't have too much of an effect in the big picture.

“If you were to look at some of the major packages we've had like NCHS, Kelly Walsh High School, it's a very small percentage of the total project price and it would really not effect it,” said Elston.

City Council made an attempt to to save money by freezing city employee's wages earlier this month with its series of budget cuts. The cuts are expected to save the city a little over a million dollars, but the permit rate increase could bring in about 200 thousand dollars annually.

Ray Pacheco says that the addition of the 200 thousand dollars annually isn't much, but it could be crucial in helping to save some jobs amongst city workers. If these fee increases are officially approved they would take effect January of 2018.