Administration and Finance Committee Chairman Colin F. LePage
Rather than give itself the power to waive building permit fees for city-owned projects, a council subcommittee voted Thursday night to ban such fees altogether. The measure needs approval from the full City Council to take effect.
In response to revelations the city charged the new Hunking School building project $300,000 in building permit fees—paid over 20 years with interest—the council’s Administration and Finance Committee recommended the full council end the practice. Committee Chairman Colin F. LePage pointed out the city did not charge building permit fees for the new Elmo D’Allessandro police maintenance garage, work at Haverhill Trinity Stadium or the Consentino School library. Yet, he said, the city charged the new Hunking School.
“I, myself, don’t think we should be doing that and I don’t think we’ve done it as past practice on other projects.” LePage also questioned how the city’s building permit fee was applied to Hunking. Under the city’s conventional formula, the fee would have been $700,000, he explained.
Councilors rejected a draft ordinance that would have required both the city council and mayor to agree to waive fees on a case-by-case basis. City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. suggested any amendment be placed under the fee waiver section of city code rather than laws governing building construction. Instead, a motion by Council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett, seconded by Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, recommends the full body prohibit imposing inspection fees when the city is the owner or lessee of the property. LePage and Councilor William J. Macek supported the motion.
When it became clear councilors were moving in another direction, Cox recommended the proposed ordinance amendment cover property the city leases. He explained the city is not always the property owner, such as the case of St. James School.
As WHAV revealed in August, the fee charged to the new school project last year is not reimbursable by the state and will be paid by taxpayers with interest over 20 years outside of limits set by the tax-limiting law, Proposition 2 ½.
It is not known when the full city council will take up the committee’s recommendation.