Some building permits increased; higher license fees for contractors and landlords among the changes approved at December 15 meeting.

 


Smyrna Town Council didn’t raise the property tax rate at the December 15 town meeting, but council did vote to increase a variety of town fees and charges.

With a 5-0 vote, council approved a resolution authorizing the town manager to increase certain town fees and to create a few new ones as well.

One of the changes involves building permits. The resolution adjusts Smyrna’s table of values for building permits to be equal to the fees charged by Kent County, or to remain at the existing value, whichever is higher.

Also, contractors and landlords will now pay higher annual license fees. The contractor’s license was increased from $50 per year to $75 per year, while the rental properties license fee went from $35 per year per unit to $45 per year per unit.

One of the new charges is a $25 fee when customers apply for new or relocated utility service. The town previously had no such fee. According to the resolution, this new fee will cover costs associated with establishing new accounts.

The resolution also increases the town’s fees on applications for rezoning, conditional uses, special exceptions, variances, major subdivisions and site plans. The town also created a new $150 fee for annexation applications.

When council considered the resolution during the meeting, Councilman Gene Mullen said the town’s finance committee had discussed a lot of potential revenue enhancements for the town.

“Most of these fees have not been changed in a very long time,” Mullen said.

The fee that garnered the most attention at the December 15 meeting was the rental property license fee.

The resolution proposed that this fee be changed from $35 to $60, but Councilman Bill Pressley said that seemed like a “big jump.”

“It’s hard enough for some landlords to collect what they have now,” he said. “It’s money the town doesn’t actually do something for.”

Town Manager Dave Hugg said this fee has been at $35 since 1996.
 

“I agree we should increase it some, but I don’t think it’s the year to double it,” said Mayor Pat Stombaugh.

Unlike the other fee changes, the rental license fee required an ordinance amendment because it was set in town code.

Council voted unanimously to waive three-reading rule for the ordinance change, and then Mullen made a motion to change the rental license fee to $50. This motion failed 1-4, with only Mullen voting in favor of it. Pressley, Stombaugh, Memphis Evans and Larry Thornton voted no, while Bill Raynor abstained.

Thornton then made a motion to delete the $35 amount from the ordinance and change it to “as set forth in the fee schedule,” and council voted 5-0 in favor of this change.

Council then voted 5-0 in favor of Mullen’s motion to approve the resolution with the list of fee changes, with an amendment to change the rental license fee to $45. Council passed this motion 5-0.

List of town fee adjustments approved at Dec. 15 meeting

Building permits – the Town of Smyrna’s values were changed to be the same as those charged by Kent County, or to remain at the current town charge, whichever is higher.

Application for rezoning – for minor (under 1 acre), raised from $100 to $150; for major (1 acre or more), raised from $250 and $25 per each additional acre to $300 and $25 for each additional acre.

Conditional use application – increased from $100 and $15 per additional acre to $250 and $25 per additional acre.

Special exception application – increased from $100 and $25 per acre to $150 and $25 per acre.

Variance application – increased from $175 to $250 for residential and $500 for all others.

Major subdivision (four or more lots) – raised from $1,000 and $25 per additional lot to $1,000 and $50 per additional lot.

Site plan application – for minor (under 3500 square feet), raised from $100 to $150; for major (over 3,500 square feet), raised from $250 to $300.

Annexation – a new $150 fee was established.

Contractor’s license – increased from $50 per year to $75 per year.

Electric agreements (developer) – added a 10 percent administrative overhead charge.

Electric meters – established a new, one-time charge to cover the cost of the meter (currently $85 for a residential meter) for all new construction and new meter installations, but not replacements.

Utility service application fee – establishes a new $25 fee for new or relocated service applications.

Rental properties license fee – increased from $35 per year per unit to $45 per year per unit.