The city of Gulfport is looking at a proposal to increase building permit fees to help increase the city's revenue. Houses are being constructed all over the city of Gulfport as it continues to grow. And that means more water, sewer and other costs to the city. Ronald Jones, a City Building Official told WLOX, "There's an opportunity for the city of Gulfport to rise to the occasion and meet those growing challenges. And certainly, that's what we're trying to do. Provide adequate water and sewer, increase our customer service." Jones say that's one reason why the city is looking at a proposal to increase building permit fees. He says it's one way the city can increase its revenue.
For example, the city's current permit fee for a 100-thousand dollar home is 460 dollars, the proposed amount is 555 dollars. Contractors like Dan Blanchard with Blanchard Construction say any increase is something that he would oppose. "We have a lot of costs that maybe nobody ever considers or sees, but these are all things that are built into our bottom line. And the more they add to it, the more you take away from our bottom line," Blanchard said.
Blanchard says the fee increase would also impact customers, making it harder to provide affordable housing. "The concept of affordable housing now has been almost done away with because it's become too expensive to build. There are some of the cities talking about impact fees, and no matter what you call it, if it's an increase, we have to pass it on to our customers."
But city officials say builders haven't had a fee increase in years, and it's time to make a change. Ronald Jones said that our economy has grown, as well as services, the cost of services, as well as the cost of materials. Since then the city's fee schedule has not been kept up as well.
Right now, the city has made no commitment to make the fee increases. City officials are looking over the proposal. Both contractors and officials say they hope they can work together to come up with the best plan.