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Medford hikes building permit fees 20 percent

Medford City Council approved a 20-percent hike in building fees Thursday to keep pace with inflation and to prevent the Building Department from running down its reserves.

Chris Reising, building director, said he'd contacted local trade groups, who said they supported the fee hikes.

Both the Homebuilders Association of Jackson County and the Medford Chamber of Commerce have endorsed the increases.

The council, which previously had voiced reluctance to increase building fees, generally supported the idea rather than risk creating a bottleneck for services at the Building Department, which has eight employees and also relies on contract workers.

A basic permit fee will increase from $50 to $60.

Other fees related to heating and electrical systems also will go up.

On a $100,000 project, existing fees averaged about $933, but the increases will bump that to $1,150.

On a $1 million project, fees will increase from $6,404 to $7,945.

A $50 million project would require $328,494 in fees compared to the existing $269,969.

On a 2,000-square-foot house with a 500-square-foot garage, the fees will increase to $2,586.92 from the previous $2,188.76. The statewide average for these fees is $2,811.

By comparison, Jackson County's building fees are 26 percent higher than Medford's.

Reising said the economy hasn't fully rebounded, and he is worried that there aren't a lot of large projects on the horizon that will generate income for the Building Department, which is funded from fee collections.

Medford School District building projects and the construction of office buildings in the downtown have helped bring in revenues for his department during the economic downturn.

Without the fee hikes, the Building Department would have to draw down its reserves by $273,000 in the remaining 17 months of the biennial budget based on an average of fee revenues, Reising said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.