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United Way of Lancaster County


Lancaster poised to dramatically revamp fees for building permits, licenses and more (update)

(Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Update (Wednesday, Aug. 10): On Tuesday, Mayor Danene Sorace said the city administration has some additional fee changes to incorporate into the resolution being considered by City Council. Accordingly, Council voted to postpone action until its Tuesday, Sept. 13, meeting.

Previously reported:

Lancaster City Council will consider a resolution Tuesday evening to adjust dozens of fees assessed by City Hall on everything from licenses to sell milk to appeals for zoning decisions.

In all, the city is proposing to change 84 fees out of the nearly 280 that it assesses.

The new fees are based on a third-party consultant’s study of fees versus the costs to city government associated with them, Director of Administrative Services Patrick Hopkins said.

Broadly speaking, he said, fees should cover the city’s cost of performing the work associated with them, but that has been far from the case. For example, the city typically expends upward of $250,000 more each year on reviews of commercial renovation projects than it recovers in fees, the consultant found.

The proposed changes include some reductions: Demolition permits, for example would be reduced from $500 to $250.

Other fees would be increased or assessed on a different basis. Fees for subdivision and land development plan reviews, for example, have been assessed based on the number of construction documents; under the new system, developers would be billed an hourly rate for city staff members’ time.

The proposed changes are here. City Council will be voting on a resolution, which can be introduced and voted on at the same meeting.