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Decatur City Council to consider increasing building fees, seeking U.S. 51 improvement plan
DECATUR GOVERNMENT

Decatur City Council to consider increasing building fees, seeking U.S. 51 improvement plan

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DECATUR — The Decatur City Council on Monday will consider increasing some building permit fees, a move officials say will most significantly affect large new construction projects.  

The council will also consider a study of potential improvements to U.S. 51 and future plans for the Transfer House, the city symbol that sits in Central Park. 

City Manager Scot Wrighton in a council memo said the city loses money on the smallest and largest projects under the current model for building permit fees.

“Our costs are well below Springfield and Peoria’s and other areas we often compare the city to,” Wrighton said. “The council discussed during budget hearings how to make the fees more commensurate with what the actual costs are.”

Fee amounts vary on the type of project and dollar amount of work. For instance, a large commercial project's fee would be .75% of the project cost, at a minimum of $150. The city will now charge separately for plan review, with those fees also based on the project cost. They can range from $75 to $250 for residential plans and $200 to $1,250 for commercial plans. 

Wrighton said larger projects would be most affected because the fees paid for permits had not been covering the cost of inspections and plan review. He said most permits for residential or commercial repairs are not likely to be affected. Most small projects, he said, would only be subjected to the minimum permit fee. 

The total construction cost of the project would include the value of all work performed, materials used and site improvements made in conjunction with the permit.

Permits to demolish residential structures with one to four units would cost $75 per unit. Additional structures, such as garages or sheds, would cost $35. The permit cost of installing an above ground swimming pool with no electric plumbing would cost $50. A pool with electrical and plumbing would cost $200, up from $70. 

The council also will consider an agreement with the Decatur Area Convention Visitors Bureau to assume oversight of the Transfer House, which has been empty since 2005. 

The DACVB would agree to raise money for interior and exterior improvements, which would make it a useful center for events in Central Park. The city would pay the bureau $250,000 annually for three years. The funds come from the city’s hotel/motel tax, from which the city has given the agency similar amounts of funding in past years. 

The agreement also makes formal note of tasks the agency had performed. It already works to promote and coordinate events that bring visitors to town, which entails working with local businesses, maintaining a comprehensive web calendar, providing reports to the city manager and creating an annual visitor's guide. 

Wrighton told the Herald & Review on Friday that the bureau would simply take the lead for the city.

“The Transfer House is structurally sound as it sits and is it not in danger of collapsing,” Wrighton said. “This agreement just makes it so that the bureau can assist with fixing the interior so that it is usable.”

Council members will also vote on hiring Springfield architecture firm Massie Massie & Associates to develop a conceptual plan for improvements to U.S. 51 between Eldorado Street and Pershing Road. 

The Illinois Department of Transportation is planning to resurface the highway in the next two to three years. Wrighton said the city has for some time been in negotiations with the department about the scope of the project. 

"We told them no, we need more than that because this is a main corridor that goes through the city that we want to revitalize with more lighting, new sidewalks, improved pedestrian crossing," Wrighton said, "and they eventually said 'come back with a conceptual plan,' which is what Massie Massie could do."

The firm would help in creating a base map, evaluating and identifying conditions or areas of concern, developing preliminary concept improvement plans for review with the city and public and meeting with the community to review the concepts and gather input among other duties. 

The agreement for services would be $25,500.

The city has worked with Massie Massie & Associates in the past. In 2012, the firm helped the city with the $14 million downtown streetscape improvement project. 

Council members will also consider accepting a $25,000 grant from the Illinois Primary Health Care Association for helping ensure an accurate count in the 2020 U.S. Census.

A resolution to place a temporary moratorium on the assessment and collection of fines, fees, penalties and costs placed on parking citations issued by the city will also be discussed by the council during the next meeting. 

Contact Analisa Trofimuk at (217) 421-7985. Follow her on Twitter: @AnalisaTro

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