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Village considers changing fees for roof projects

August 12, 2009
By CHRIS KNIGHT, Enterprise Senior Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE - The village is considering an amendment to its building permit fee schedule that would charge the same rate for all roof replacement projects.

Currently, it costs 10 cents per square foot to get a building permit for a residential roof project and 25 cents per square foot to replace the roof of a commercial building.

Now, village officials are proposing just one rate of 10 cents per square foot for every roof project, whether it's residential, non-residential, commercial, a place of worship or a nonprofit.

The village looked into changing the fee schedule last month after representatives of St. Luke's Episcopal Church complained that they were charged the commercial rate, resulting in a fee of more than $1,000, to replace sections of roof on three of the church's five buildings.

At the time, the board considered establishing a third category for fees to cover churches and nonprofits.

But village Manager Marty Murphy said that proved to be too confusing, given the many different categories of nonprofits.

"It just seemed it would be very cumbersome to establish multiple sections when it seemed to be just as easy and simpler to modify the fee itself," Murphy said at Monday night's village board meeting.

Trustee John McEneany asked village Treasurer Paul Ellis how much revenue the village could lose by doing away with the higher commercial rate. Ellis couldn't say without doing more research.

Trustee Jeff Branch objected to getting rid of the 25 cents per square foot rate for commercial roof projects.

"There are some big dogs out there that can afford to pay 25 cents and, quite frankly, we need the money," he said.

Instead of changing the fee schedule, Branch suggested the village keep the current rate structure and deal with issues like the one brought up by St. Luke's Church on a case-by-case basis.

But Trustee Susan Waters said the board would be micro-managing building permits.

"It would put is in the position of being judges on whose hardship is greater than somebody else's," she said.

At McEneany's request, the board agreed to table the amendment until it could get more information on the revenue the village could potentially lose by doing away with the commercial rate.

"Maybe we can reach a compromise for a different fee structure where all roof projects are 15 cents a square foot for everybody," McEneany said.



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