Building permit and other construction-related fees enforced by Metro Codes will soon increase by 30 percent.
The Metro Council on Tuesday night approved a hike that is supposed to account for the insufficient level of dollars the codes department has collected over the past few years through fees administered to acquire permits. The economic downturn has resulted in less construction activity, meaning fewer developers are applying for building permits.
The increase passed the council on third reading by a 27-8 margin.
“The codes department, and its inspectors, have a variety of things to do,” said Councilman Sam Coleman. “If we don’t finance these services then our districts will suffer.”
But several council members questioned whether now is the right time for a fee hike.
“Pure and simple, it’s a tax increase,” Councilman Michael Craddock said. “Anytime you raise a fee it’s a tax increase. Sometimes that’s warranted, and sometimes it’s not. It’s not warranted to do it right this minute in some of the slowest economic times we’ve ever had in this city.”
At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard said “raising fees and increasing costs to consumers in a bad economy is just a very bad idea,” adding it makes Davidson County have higher fees than surrounding counties impose.
“It sends the wrong signal to the community in a time when we’re desperately seeking new development and new projects in this county,” Tygard said. “It has the potential to move some of those projects across county lines.”
Terry Cobb, director of the codes department, has said a 30 percent fee increase puts Nashville on par with rates enforced in several cities with similar populations.
The majority of dollars collected by the codes department is delivered to Metro’s general fund.