The argument for increasing the fees was presented by Community Development Director Kerwin Jensen, who said most fees had not increased in seven to 10 years, and that the increases would be incremental over the next two years.
“Growth should pay for itself,” argued councilmember Carol McDermott, and her motion to adopt the increases was seconded by councilmember Gail Marvel.
Bill Patterson, the at large councilmember, disagreed, and said it’s not good to increase fees during a recession.
“That’s the last thing we need to do, to throw barriers up to people building more houses,” he said.
In brief, the proposed changes would have raised an application for a mobile home park from $650 to $1,000 and a planned development application from $300 to $500. Site development fees would go from $150 to $200, and a variance application would increase from $200 to $300. Fees for other applications, including signs, would also have gone up.
Vicki Jones, representing the Montrose Board of Realtors, said home building has dropped off dramatically in recent years and that other fees, such as water taps, have increased this year, and more increases could make matters worse.
“Some big builders have left, and some smaller contractors are not coming in any more,” she said. “I would like to see you take a more proactive approach, even look at decreasing some of these fees.”
Councilman Thomas Smits said it would be better to cut city expenses than increase fees. He was then reminded by Mayor Kathy Ellis that the city has already cut $2 million from its budget.
“I can argue both ways, but I don’t think this is the right time,” Ellis said.
Several other people from the audience spoke, all against raising fees, before the council voted 3-2 to deny the resolution, with Marvel and McDermott voting in favor of the increases.