The City of Turlock will subsidize building fees in hopes of attracting more development to the city.
The new policy, which will offer developers a 25 percent discount from the city's true cost to process permits, follows a split, 3-2 vote of council on Tuesday.
“In essence, it's a $135,000 subsidy that would be given to the building permit process,” City Manager Roy Wasden said.
The subsidy will be paid from Turlock's General Fund – the $13 million pot of tax dollars collected by the City of Turlock. The building fees will be adjusted annually, based on the consumer price index.
The fee table, prepared by an outside consultant, reflects the true cost to process more than 200 different construction scenarios – less the 25 percent discount. The City Manager will have the authority to apportion fees in off-table instances, like when a resident wants to replace siding on just one side of a home rather than the entire building.
“If we were to use the table, it wouldn't work,” said Turlock Chief Building Official Eric Picciano. “We'd have an inequitable fee.”
In addition to the new fee structure, developers will now pay fees in a different manner. A less-onerous pre-payment process will incorporate efficiencies from processing multiple permits related to the same development.
Approval of the new fees preceded the Tuesday adoption of the 2013-2014 Turlock Budget, which includes $1.4 million in deficit spending. The budget saw the reduction of four police officer and three firefighter positions, though the budget for overtime was increased in an attempt to mitigate the loss of public safety personnel.
Councilman Steven Nascimento voted against the building fee subsidy, arguing the money should be spent on items he considers more important like public safety.
“I think that's not an appropriate use of resources,” Nascimento said. “I would urge the council to use that $135,000 to support other services.”
Councilman Forrest White echoed Nascimento's beliefs.
But the reminder of councilmembers, headed by Councilwoman Amy Bublak felt the lower building fees would actually generate more revenue for Turlock in the long run. New development would bring new businesses, residents, and jobs to Turlock, ultimately generating the tax revenues needed to balance the city's budget, she said.
“You're actually going to yield far more in the far end, and not that far,” Bublak said. “… My philosophy is we have to stimulate the growth to pay for everyone to work in this city.”
On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council also:
• Approved the purchase of two parcels at 1129 N. Olive Ave. for $125,000, plus half of closing costs. The parcels will be used to widen the road.
• Approved final maps for Lander Crossing, a new shopping center consisting of six commercial lots west of Lander Ave. The lots are located behind the existing Denny's, Jack in the Box, and Arco, and adjacent to Highway 99.
• Approved a $54,813 study as part of a plan to sell treated wastewater to water-starved farmers on the west side of Stanislaus County.
The plan would see Turlock continue to discharge treated wastewater into the San Joaquin River. The Patterson Irrigation District would then pump a like amount of water from the river into the Delta Mendota Canal, which would convey the water to the Del Puerto Water District.
• Sold a parcel located at 821 N. Broadway to the Turlock Irrigation District for $27,500.
The City of Turlock purchased the parcel from the district for $1 in the 1930s. In the 1990s, the district developed the parcel into a TID parking lot – without the city's knowledge.
As both parties only recently realized the parcel had been developed by TID without the district owning it, the city now sold the parcel to TID.
• Heard a monthly update on capital projects and building activity.
• Issued two proclamations in honor of the retirements of Turlock Fire Captain Manuel Drumonde, and Turlock Water Quality Control Division Manager John “Steve” Wilson.
• Authorized the City Manager to sign letters in support of or in opposition to 14 bills currently in the state legislature.
• In closed session, conferenced with labor negotiators from all employee unions.