Columbia County residents soon will see an extra $1 added to their water and sewer bill.
Columbia County Commission passed a resolution at last week's meeting that will add a dollar to the base cost for residential sanitary sewer service to help cover the rising cost of providing sewer service, said Billy Clayton, the director of Columbia County's Water and Sewer Division.
"Sewer is, over my lifetime, becoming an ever-increasing, costly thing to do, more so than water," Clayton said.
The base sewer charge will increase from $9.30 to $10.30 as of Nov. 1 in addition to the charge of $1.83 per 1,000 gallons, Clayton said.
While trying to make the sewer department less financially dependent on the water department, Clayton said, the increase is being done is small moves to make it as easy as possible for residents.
Just as sewer fees are increasing, builders also might soon see the cost of building permits increase.
Commissioners recently approved a first reading of a resolution that will raise the cost of building permits for both residential and commercial construction to help cover the cost of two new employees in the county's newly consolidated Building Commercial Services Department, headed by Richard Harmon.
Harmon said that because of explosive growth in the county, an additional building inspector needs to be added to the staff in addition to a second erosion and sediment control inspector to comply with state Environmental Protection Division standards.
"We don't want to be overloaded,'' Harmon said. "We want to offer the services that the contractors are paying for, first of all, but most importantly we want to make sure we are still getting quality construction in the county."
One way to do that is through thorough inspections. The building community wants that.''
Residential construction permits will increase between $5 and $25 in the following areas - plumbing, mechanical, electrical, sprinkler, re-inspection, demolition and moving. Pool permits, which are currently based on the construction value, will be changed to $5 per $1,000 of value with a $50 minimum. Under the proposed change, building permits will remain at 8 cents per square foot.
The current system of building permits is based on the value of the building with no minimum charge. The change would simplify the process and require builders to pay a $50 minimum charge and a $250 plan review that will be credited to the permit cost upon plan approval.
The commercial construction fee will cost $5.50 per 1,000 square feet for a building valued up to $5 million and $4.50 per 1,000 square feet for a building valued at more than $5 million.
"We had the backing of the building community on this," Harmon said, adding that the input of that same community about the proposed change will be heard at the Construction Advisory Board meeting slated for Sept. 19.
The second a final reading of the resolution will not be heard and voted on by commissioners until all changes have been made after the Sept. 19 meeting, Harmon said.
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