Wood County officials to look at fees

PARKERSBURG – Wood County planners will discuss the county building, demolition and other fees at their meeting today.

The Wood County Planning Commission is scheduled to meet at 4:30 p.m. today in the Fort Boreman Public Meeting room of the Wood County Courthouse Annex.

The meeting agenda includes review and discussion of the county permit fees. The Wood County Commission asked the planners to review the fees after commission President Wayne Dunn requested department heads and county officials look into cost-cutting and revenue-producing measures.

John Reed, Wood County building permits and compliance officer, provided the commission a list of county fees in comparison to area municipalities and other counties. The breakdown showed some fees were minimal or non-existent.

Some fees are set by state statute and can only be changed by the Legislature; others have minimum and maximum limits. In the case of building, demolition and related permits, those fees are set by the county.

“I’m not advocating one way or another on the fees. But, from an administrative point of view, it might be nice if they could clean up the flat $10 fees that are so confusing for the public; $10 for a window or fence or porch under 20 square feet. If it’s over 20 feet, it’s different. Cleaning that up would help us and help the public keep straight on how much the fees are,” Reed said earlier.

County commissioners discussed the issue and decided to ask planners to review the fees and come back with a recommendation.

County administrator/planning commission coordinator Marty Seufer earlier consulted with planning commission special counsel Blaine Myers about the procedure for changing fees.

“It is done by ordinance and does not require a public hearing, but because it involves fees, it was recommended a public hearing be set. The public hearing would be held before the county commission because they have the ultimate authority to make the decision, the planning commission can only make recommendations,” Seufer said.

During an earlier discussion of the permit fees, Commissioner Blair Couch noted the county charged $30 for three years of demolition at the former Johns Manville plant, which is located outside the Vienna corporate limits, while the same permit would have cost $13,680 had the property been in Vienna city limits. Couch said he’d also like to have the builders/developers input regarding any fee changes.

A building permit is required for any improvement done to Wood County property. The property owner is responsible for getting the building permit here; in the city, it’s the contractor. Currently, Wood County has a flat fee of $10 for estimated construction cost up to $1,000. For each additional $1,000, it’s an additional $1. The fee to locate, place or maintain a single-wide mobile home or house trailer is $10. The county has a flat fee of $10 for remodeling, repair or replacement, excluding room additions.

There is a special $10 fee for specific things like gutters, rewiring, or adding a driveway. The $10 fee applies to storage buildings, porches, stoops of patios, canopies, wooden decks, driveways, sidewalks, windows, siding, gutters, soffit, wiring updates, fences, foundation repairs and permits in the floodplain.

Wood County relies on the homeowners’ estimate for construction cost to base the permit fee.

Kanawha County uses valuation as well, but Reed noted the county requires all the documentation be provided on the building costs, materials and related expenses.

Among other fees:

* For a $150,000/1,500-square-foot new residence in Wood County the fee would be $159; in Washington County it is $272.50; Parkersburg, $900; Vienna, $525; Williamstown, $235, and Belpre, $300.

* For a new commercial structure valued at $250,000 for 5,000 square feet, the cost would be $259 in Wood County; $575, Washington County; $1,375, Parkersburg; $1,250, Vienna; $260 in Williamstown and $500 in Belpre. Wood County has no fee for roofing and signage.

* Wood County is the only area governmental entity that exempts nonprofits from fees.