The Denham Springs City Council is considering several changes to the building permit process.
Changes introduced in the council’s last meeting would allow the city to collect more money when a building official is called out to review a site.
The proposal calls for higher minimum permit fees — $70 for commercial structures and $50 for residential structures. Should the changes pass, officials also would be allowed to collect $50 for follow-up visits if the site fails inspection or if the builder doesn’t provide sufficient information or locks the official out.
Building Official Rick Foster said the plan is similar to the parish’s and that many municipalities have similar or higher rates. Denham Springs is “soaking up” the costs of the fees instead of the contractors, he said.
“It can add up real quick to thousands of dollars,” the building official told the council.
Foster said his team’s time is worth more than they’re currently allowed to bill. Higher rates also will incentivize contractors to make sure they’re ready for inspection, rather than calling a building official to a site without all the pieces in place.
The proposed changes also explicitly state that a building official must approve any work that happens before the necessary permits are issued and paid for.
The proposal also notes that other city engineering reviews, certifications and professional services are separate matters, which may be charged separately and possibly outsourced to contracted firms.
In addition, the city shall be allowed to bill a subdivision or building applicant for any legal advertising that may be necessary.
The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes during their March 15 meeting at 6 p.m. before voting on the matter.
In other business, the council voted to refinance bonds issued in 2009 to take advantage of lower interest rates in an attempt to save money. The council also approved a $10,000 contribution to Livingston Youth and Family Counseling, which is based in the city.
After the meeting, organizers from the Brew Block Party clarified that while the city approved road closures for the May 20 event until 11 p.m., the event is only scheduled to run until 10 p.m.