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Sussex Countian
  • Georgetown Town Council approves changes to building permit fees

  • Fees associated with Georgetown building permits have been altered due to concerns that some residents were paying too much for simple home improvements.
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  • Fees associated with Georgetown building permits have been altered due to concerns that some residents were paying too much for simple home improvements.
    At its April 24 regular meeting, the Georgetown Town Council voted unanimously to approve a sliding scale for surcharges tacked onto building permits, to be based on the construction value of an applicant’s improvement. The surcharges go into the town’s Emergency Services and Georgetown Recreation, Education, Arts Trust funds. Money in the Emergency Services Fund is dispersed among the town’s emergency services personnel, and money in the GREAT fund goes toward groups like Georgetown Arts and Flowers and the library.
    A building permit costs $25 for the first $1,000 of labor and materials associated with a project, plus $5 for each additional $1,000 of labor and materials. The surcharge accompanying the permit cost, prior to this change, was one half of one percent of the total construction value of the improvement.
    Now, the surcharge is based on the improvement’s construction value.
    “This is a little more equitable because it’s based on the size of the project,” said Councilwoman Linda Dennis. “I think those that have larger projects should pay more than those with smaller projects.”
    For an improvement valued less than $99,999, the Emergency Services and GREAT Fund fees are each .001 percent of the total construction value. For an improvement that falls in the range of $100,000 and $499,999, the fees are .003 percent of the total construction value. For an improvement that is valued at more than $500,000, the fees are .005 percent of the total construction value.
    For instance, according to Town Manager Gene Dvornick, if a resident decides to add a bedroom to their home, and the construction value of the addition is $75,000, they would pay $75 into each fund, for a total of $150. The original fee of .005 percent would have the homeowner pay $375 into each fund, totaling $750, which is more than the cost of the building permit.
    Dvornick added that, under the new sliding scale, if someone built a new home valued at $150,000, they would pay $450 into each fund, for a total of $900. If a Wawa was built in Georgetown, and the construction value was $750,000, the company would pay $3,750 into each fund, for a total of $7,500.
    “Obviously a Wawa would have a larger impact on emergency services personnel and the community than a bedroom addition,” Dvornick said. “We’re not trying to penalize anyone. We’re trying to make [the fees] more equitable.”
    Also at its regular meeting, the council unanimously approved a measure that increases the amount of days the town has to process a building permit application from 10 to 20.
    “The majority of our [permit] applications are processed in three days,” Dvornick said. “There are some that may take a little longer.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Mayor Mike Wyatt said he’s slightly concerned about the change.
    “We’re trying to make things easier, but we’re [potentially] adding 10 days to the [amount] of time [it takes to approve a building permit application],” Wyatt said.
    Dvornick said the measure allows the town up to 20 days, and that would be for complicated building permit applications only.
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