|Official Make Music Day!|
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Because there is more building and more permitting, there is a proposal to increase planning fees.
Since 2012, planning applications have increased by 50% while staffing levels have remained the same. This has created a significant workload for our staff that is becoming less manageable as trends suggest volumes will not decrease anytime soon. Due to the workload, cases are taking longer to review, with less time dedicated to the review, even as the cases themselves are increasing in complexity. As the data shows below, the increased workload translates to 338 cases (on average) for a staff of 7.2 FTE. Based on analysis of prior year volumes, it appears that the best ratio of cases per planner is in the range of 225 - 250 per year. So current volumes exceed the ideal workload by 35%....We recommend 9.2 FTEs given the known activity of previous years.So a problem here may be that the revenue stream and corresponding staffing level is driving the proposal. As a revenue project, the first "stakeholder" consulted was apparently the Home Builders Association and the City sought alignment with their politics first:
The disadvantage of this proposal is primarily found in the cost recovery ratio . In 2014, the City resolved to work towards a 50% cost recovery ratio so that fees didn’t increase too quickly or too high and thus create an significant, new cost to applicants. The City’s planning review service adhered to 50% or less cost recovery for several years....This is really outside the scope here, so just some questions:
In the high - volume scenario, the new fee increases will lead to 66% cost recovery. Staff has presented this to the Homebuilders Association, along with other members of the stakeholder community, and has pledged to embark on improvements to the service so that this higher cost, and higher revenue, is invested in material benefits that enhance their experience of the service. So the disadvantage (e.g. cost recovery that is higher than the 50% threshold) should be buffeted by positive improvements for customers.
- Is 50% cost recovery sustainable? Why not 100% recovery?
- Why don't we align fees with "what we want?" and with larger City values, policies, and politics? Are we lowering fees on things we want more of? And raising fees on things we want less of? (Some things should have a higher cost!) There's no discussion here of the way our fees align with policy goals. Does this adequately align with the proposals on SDCs, especially concepts for variable SDCs? Maybe this fee schedule accomplishes this, but shouldn't citizens see a discussion of how this fits with the new strategic plan and other high-level policy documents? It all just looks like it's tailored to the Home Builders - an instance of regulatory capture? - rather than to the interests of the broader citizenry.
|Proposal to annex about 20 acres near Creekside and Lone Oak|
|The latest map for the Lone Oak Reimbursement District|
So just in general terms here is a claim: It is reasonable for costs to develop property that is not yet inside the City limits to be significantly higher than costs to redevelop property on the interior like the North Campus of the State Hospital. There ought to be pricing signals that encourage interior projects.
Do our planning fees accomplish this? Or do we incent development on the edges and retard interior redevelopment by making it more costly? Do we unnecessarily subsidize luxury housing outside of the city limits and near a golf course, and penalize affordable housing on the interior?
If there is rhyme and reason here, the Staff Report is thin on it.
Maybe you will know the answers, or know more anyway.
Bullets for the rest:
- A routine agreement with ODOT for the Brown Road project on "right-of-way services," with construction for 2019 planned right now.
- A Public Hearing on the proposal to let hard liquor be sold in parks on properly permitted occasions.
- A Public Hearing on the 2019 City budget.
- There's another annexation on Wallace Road that looks, on the surface anyway, to be pretty straight-forward and reasonable.
- More action on the Fisher Road public housing project. (See previous discussion here, including minor criticism that the City overrates it as "within walking distance to bus lines via walking and bicycle paths along major roadways.")