Jeffco’s county commissioners balked at a proposed increase in fees charged by the county’s Planning and Zoning Department.
The rejected fee boosts were intended to recoup more expenses related to processing applications and permits in the county. Jeffco recovered about 13 percent of those expenses in the last year, putting the county near the bottom among area governments.
For example, Jeffco charges about $600 to rezone 5 acres into five single-family homes, well below the average of $2,012 for the region. It costs $4,000 for the same rezone in Denver.
In 2009, commissioners directed county staff to reassess the fee structure to bring Jeffco closer to 25 percent cost recovery. The proposed rates would have achieved 20 percent cost recovery.
“We’ve never heard of an applicant or a developer talk to me about how high our fees are,” said Planning and Zoning Director John Wolforth. “They’ve always talked about how they like to work in Jefferson County because of our staff.”
The proposed increases varied depending on the type of application. An application for a block party would have increased by $5, while the final plat for a property would have gone up by $140.
Fees for services already recouping 20 percent of expenses were not included in the proposed increases.
Commissioners Casey Tighe and Don Rosier, both of whom weren’t on the board in 2009, balked at the proposed hikes.
“I definitely want to make sure we’re not the highest, because we want people to know Jefferson County is receptive to development,” Tighe said. “We don’t want to discourage people from coming to Jefferson County. I don’t know if 25-percent policy should drive us in this decision.”
Commissioner Faye Griffin supported the increases. While she didn’t want to discourage development, Griffin said, the county needs to find ways to recover its expenses like any business.
“When you talk about what is our philosophy — should we recover every bit of money? — that’s not a discussion we’ve ever had. But we do need to cover some of these expenses,” Griffin said. “If it were a business, we’d be losing and losing.”
Any new fee structure approved by the county would have taken effect Jan. 1. Wolforth said there had been no discussions on when another potential restructuring of fees would go before the board.
Contact Ramsey Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.