Planning Department lowers rates

Amber Houston
ECB Publishing, Inc.

Homeowners rejoice: the Jefferson County Planning Department has redeveloped its fee schedule with overall lower rates. This schedule was accepted by the Board of County Commissioners on June 2 and will go into effect immediately. Bill Tellefsen, Director of the Jefferson County Planning Department, spearheaded this effort. Said Tellefsen in an interview with the Monticello News, “I work with people every day from all walks of life and they ask me all sorts of questions. The hardest one to answer is ‘Why do I have to pay that much?’ I would just like to see these fees be brought into a more reasonable scale.” Changes are extensive, and they include cuts in various areas. Residential construction and improvements were formerly a sliding scale, getting more expensive to permit the larger the construction project was. While it may seem to make sense (more square footage means more work for inspectors) the system disincentivized new construction of nice, detached single-family homes. For example, a home valued at $150,000 would be charged a fee of $882.50, compared to a mobile home placement, which cost only $285. The new system has done away with this scale in an effort to more accurately reflect the workload involved in planning. Flat fees have also been reduced. A new or replacement 911 address was $100: now a new one is $30 and a replacement is $10. Addition of a swimming pool used to cost $200: it has been reduced to $50. The largest cut came in a special exception application/rezoning permit, which are now only $250: they used to cost $1500. Depending on size, ponds cost anywhere from $300-$500 in permitting: the new fee schedule has waived that fee, provided Water Management District approval can be proven. The new fee schedule was unanimously approved by the Commissioners. County Coordinator Parrish Barwick praised Tellefsen, saying, “Our planning department back in the years created the old fee numbers to make the office work at that time. I credit Mr. Bill for saying that the effort does not merit the cost. He is trying to be more appropriate with his fees, and that’s a rare demonstration of the government looking out for its people.” To see the entire fee schedule visit the Jefferson County Planning Office at 445 West Palmer Mill Road.