The Lamar City Council is reviewing its pricing structure for building permits. The action is being taken following recent remarks made by Lamar area businessman, Ed Jones, on what he recounted was a disparity between the fees charged in Lamar versus the same scope of building project in metro Denver. Using best available numbers from other communities, the city staff developed some price structures which were reviewed by the council.
Craig Brooks, City of Lamar Chief Building Official, outlined the fee comparison between Lamar, Aurora and Thornton at Monday’s meeting on January 23rd. He said he learned that both Thornton and Aurora will collect a 3.5% sales tax when the permit is issued, whereas Denver has a different collection system.
With the majority of criteria for costs weighed, Brooks said Lamar’s fee structure is still low compared to those three cities. “Denver requires seven additional rows of fees which were not specifically listed on the website,” he explained, saying those cover extra areas such as planning, rezoning, site development, landmark preservation and an affordable housing linkage which goes in every permit. With a non-direct comparison for the same type construction project for Ed Jones, the cost would be $12,563 in Denver while Lamar’s was $12,326.
Brooks, at the request of the council, will explore the fee structure for Pueblo and La Junta. He said he visited the site on East Maple Street at least 44 times since work began and expects about 15 more visits until completion. Brooks explained the visits were needed at each stage of the project to date and resulted in one area he discovered that required a correction which probably saved the contractors some additional time and funding.
Mayor Roger Stagner suggested compiling information on the amount of time spent on the visits and Brooks said he keeps a running record on the nature and the date of the visits. City Administrator, John Sutherland, mentioned that the budget for Brooks’ department is greater than the revenue generated by the permit fees, even though he’s doing a better job of collecting them than had been done in the past.
In other action the council approved the Equitable Sharing Agreement and Certification between the City of Lamar and the Department of Justice. The agreement certifies the money spent annually which helps fund purchase costs on federally forfeited equipment, property, etc. for the Lamar Police Department. Treasurer Kristin McCrea explained that the amount, $2,592.24 of forfeiture funds was the 2016 balance for the city.
Bert Davis was appointed at the city’s representative to the Prowers County Health Pool. Davis is Human Resources Manager for the city.
The council approved a resolution pertaining to safe drinking water systems within the City of Lamar. In 2015 the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment began an effort to enforce compliance with Federal and State safe water drinking regulations. The Backflow Prevention and Cross Connection Control Program protects our public drinking water system from becoming contaminated from pollutants which could enter the distribution system by backflow or back-siphonage from a customer’s water supply system through the connection to the city’s public drinking water system. Some commercial and industrial businesses are required to install a prevention assembly which blocks water through a cross connection. Single family housing units are usually exempt from such requirements. This program already exists in Lamar and the resolution is an update of new regulations to make sure the requirements are being met.
By Russ Baldwin
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