Lang opposes building fee hikes

New trustee questions action without public input.
Andy Ouriel
Jan 23, 2014
The newest Perkins Township trustee rushed to action in stopping what some would consider an injustice to taxpayers.
 
In his first public meeting as an elected official, trustee Jim Lang halted a resolution calling for several buildingrelated fee increases. The resolution was slated for approval without public discussion and without supporting data.

The discussion came at a recent public meeting, just before trustees were set to vote on the 2014 fee schedule, which included the proposed increases.

John Curtis, the township’s chief building official, submitted for trustee approval a new building and zoning 2014 fee schedule, which set prices for about 80 services.

Trustees assumed all fees would remain the same from 2013 to 2014.

Just when it seemed no one had realized the fees would increase, Lang spoke out. He had cross-referenced the 2013 fee list and found several proposed increases for this year, such as the cost to build swimming pools and sheds.

The prices on some items jumped by $25 to $50 in just a year’s time.

Curtis said he didn’t notice the price differences upon submitting the documents for trustee approval.

Lang moved to postpone the issue until it could be re-evaluated or until someone can explain why the increases are absolutely necessary.

It’s rare officials delay a scheduled vote for any reason, but in this case Lang believed it was a necessity.

“We need to take a look at this” he said.

Said Curtis: “I’m going to go back and see what the issue is”

Trustees Tim Coleman and Jeff Ferrell agreed with Lang.

Ferrell asked Curtis to produce a document detailing each fee and what it generated for the township in 2012 and 2013. The information could help trustees identify rarely used services, and possibly lead to lower fees in some cases.

“The last time we looked at these fees, we lowered some of them,” said Ferrell, alluding to possibly reducing fees charged when a resident wants to demolish a structure or repair a deck.

At least one township resident appreciated Lang’s outspokenness.

“You want people to keep their property up, but if you nickel and dime them to death on everything, then it’s not going to happen,” township resident Cheryl Best-Wilke said.

Best-Wilke would like to see the fees lowered.

It’s unknown when trustees will adopt the 2014 fee schedule, and if fees for certain services will change.