A new fee schedule for building inspections is being proposed by the Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District, proposed as a more equitable way to recoup district costs in performing the inspections.

A new fee schedule for building inspections is being proposed by the Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District, proposed as a more equitable way to recoup district costs in performing the inspections.

On August 20, the SBFPD held a first reading of an ordinance that would base building and use fees on the square footage of the building rather than on estimated total construction cost. The second reading, which could include a vote to finalize the proposal, will likely take place at their September meeting.

According to Sunrise Beach Fire Chief Dennis Reilly, one of the only other fire districts in the region to switch to the square footage basis is Mid County Fire Protection District.

Reilly said he hadn’t really thought about it until talking with local developers and contractors who raised the issue on their behalf and their clients.

A 2,000-square-foot home, for example, could cost $200,000 or $400,000 depending on the types of finishes, but that difference in finishes doesn’t impact the fire department’s mission in enforcing life safety building codes. The required building codes for a 2,000 square foot building are the same.

“I sat back and thought about it. It really is the fair and equitable thing for everybody, to get everybody on a level playing field,” said Reilly in a followup interview.

He pointed out during the meeting that the code fees should be about the district recouping the costs of inspections, not being a money maker.

The district is proposing a rate of 15 cents per square foot with a minimum permit fee of $50.

Remodels of residential buildings less than 700 square feet with changes to electric service would be a $75 permit fee, and over 700 square feet 15 cents per square foot.

Commercial permits will also be assessed at 15 cents per square foot as well. Government entities, using tax funds, will receive a 50 percent discount in the formula.

Currently, there is a minimum permit fee of $50 for the first $50,000 of construction cost for one and two family residences. From the base, there is a $1.50 per $1,000 of construction cost rate. For $300,000 and over in construction, the rate goes to $2 per $1,000.

Commercial construction permit fees have a more complicated formula with a $100 fee for construction costs up to $20,000. Between $20,000 and $200,000 in construction costs, add $4 for each additional $1,000. Between $200,001 to $1 million, add $3.50 for each additional $1,000, and for construction costs over $1 million, add $2 for each additional $1,000.