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WF City Council approves building permit fee increase

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 5:45 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The Wichita Falls City Council approved an increase in major building permit fees for the first time in 12 years. And, while almost all members agreed the increase was necessary, there was so much pushback from the public.

“We are not in favor of the proposed increases,” said Michael Grassi, with the North Texas Home Builders Association.

Tuesday morning’s city council meeting proved to be a full house as members of the North Texas Home Builders Association filled nearly half the seats to protest an increase to building permit fees.

“We’re not saying no to the price increase, we just want to know what the costs are and are they relevant to the price increase,” said Grassi.

Right now, the average cost for a permit in Wichita Falls is $670, which covers things like the home inspection. Compared to other cities in the state, that’s nearly half the cost. The proposed increase would be 12.5% over four years to keep up with costs and account for inflation.

“We have the numbers, we have a budget, and we know exactly what we spend up there,” said Stephen Santellana, Wichita Falls mayor.

“Just look at inflation and what inflation has done. Every year it’s put more of the burden on the general taxpayer,” said Darron Leiker, Wichita Falls City Manager.

Looking at inflation alone, the $670 established in 2010 is now worth just over $900, and the proposed increase still wouldn’t be enough to hit that mark.

“At some point, it becomes so burdensome that that 12.5% increase is going to look like 50s and 60s,” said Santellana.

The last time these types of fees were increased was in 2010, and so the hope is that keeping them modest and still much lower than the average now will make it easier for the future.

“To increase the tax rate or a water fee or anything like that is very tough, but I think you all need to be careful because are you going to ask the different stakeholder groups what tax they want to pay or what water rate they want to pay, or what trash rate they want to pay? At some point, you have to make tough decisions,” said Leiker.

And for the city council, that meant making the decision of moving forward with the fee in a vote of 4-3, leaving hope for the future and frustration for the present. The newly approved fees will go into effect on March 1 of next year.

Wichita Falls City Council Coverage - Dec. 21, 2021

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