A slowdown in home construction and increasing costs of enforcing regulations are causing layoffs at the Spokane County Courthouse.
And builders will have to pay more for permits or wait longer for inspections required at several steps in the construction process.
Jim Manson, county director of building and planning, said he’ll lay off two clerical workers, leave two inspector positions vacant and reassign a planner next year.
Manson said he also either must increase the cost of building permits or lay off two of his remaining inspectors.
Which of those options he picks “just depends on the feedback we get from the (building) industry,” Manson said.
“They may say, ‘We’ll go with lower levels of service rather than pay higher fees.”’
Manson’s department is self-supporting. It gets no money from taxpayers who don’t buy permits.
Manson said he expects to sell fewer than 1,000 permits for single-family houses this year compared with 1,077 last year. That’s down from 1,518 in 1993, a 15-year high.
The number of commercial permits increased 23 percent this year compared with last year, thanks to the Spokane Valley Mall and construction of other stores nearby.
“But the majority of our (permits) are single-family. So when it goes down, it really hurts us,” Manson said.
Manson proposes increasing the surcharge on building permits from 22 percent to 28 percent. That would add $68 to the cost of a typical house and $100 to the cost of a 5,000-square-foot office.
The surcharge goes toward services for which Manson’s department charges nothing.
That includes everything from enforcing the energy and adult entertainment codes to inspecting landscaping and helping settle disputes between landlords and tenants.
Manson said he’s studying other fees - such as those for plumbing and conditional land-use permits - to determine whether they should be raised.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Building permits
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: THE PROPOSAL Under a proposed rate change, the cost of building permits would increase. Instead of paying $1,379 for a permit for a typical 1,500-square-foot house, builders would pay $1,446. Instead of paying $1,732 for a permit for a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, builders would pay $1,818. Instead of paying $2,025 for a permit for a 5,000-square-foot office, contractors would pay $2,125.