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Builders: Don’t cut Pierce County planning staff, raise fees

Post by David Wickert on Nov. 10, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
November 10, 2009 5:25 pm

Local builders oppose a plan to raise fees and cut staff at Pierce County planning and land services department.

In a letter to the County Council yesterday (here’s a copy), the Master Builders Association of Pierce County said it does not support the council’s move to cut $1.9 million from the planning department to help balance the general fund budget.

“While we certainly agree that permit activity is down at the present time, MBA cannot support increasing permit fees for fewer bodies to deliver services when activity does pick back up,” MB government affairs director Tiffany Speir wrote to council Chairman Roger Bush.

The letter indicates the association had previously agreed not to oppose planning fee increases included in County Executive Pat McCarthy’s proposed budget, as long as the council accepted McCarthy’s budget for the department.

McCarthy’s budget would eliminate 3 full-time positions from the planning department. With the $1.9 million budget cut tentatively approved Monday, the department will have to cut an additional 22 positions.

At the same time, the council already has tentatively approved various fee hikes that will raise more than $1 million for the planning department.

Planning department director Chuck Kleeberg told council members Monday cutting staff would likely result in long lines for building and other permits when the economy picks up. Builders have long complained about those lines and other problems in the planning department.

The council will finalize its 2010 budget this afternoon.

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