BROOKSVILLE — County commissioners want to hear more details before they agree to across-the-board increases in permits for home-improvement projects.
The commissioners directed staff on Tuesday to bring back information on how the building department's revenues would be affected if fees stayed the same on improvements such as new air conditioning systems or water heaters, but were raised on optional items such as swimming pools and spas or permits requiring multiple inspections.
Commissioners also want to consider not charging the building department as much in the past to provide administrative services.
The fee increase request came about because, as a free-standing enterprise fund, the department must raise enough fees to pay for itself and it has not been doing so lately with the downturn in contruction.
Hernando County business development director Michael McHugh warned that the department will be out of money by November or December. More employees could lose their jobs or services might have to be cut without extra funding, county officials warned.
Commissioner Jim Adkins asked how the board could consider raising fees when, at a recent meeting, the group agreed to write a letter to Bright House Networks asking them to reconsider a rate increase during a time when so many citizens are facing financial challenges.
Commissioner Rose Rocco said that many people are just not getting permits to get their work done and people are reluctant to spend the money during the current economic environment.
"It's a tough decision,'' she said. "I know that the general public is out there and they are really hurting.''
Commissioner Dave Russell said he would not like to see increases in the fees for necessities such as water tanks or air conditioners, but would consider increases for items that were more wants than needs such as swimming pools. Russell is a pool contractor himself.
Other commissioners agreed. Additional information will be brought back to a future commission meeting.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.