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Some Sebastian Growth Management fees to fall 50 percent

SEBASTIAN – In the hope of sparking new growth and changing the perception of being business unfriendly, the Sebastian City Council Wednesday decided to cut some of its growth management fees by 50 percent.

The move is estimated to decrease the city’s Growth Management Department about $10,000, which could be made up through the city’s general fund. “Frankly, I’m not worried about it,” City Manager Al Minner said of the loss of revenues to the Growth Management Department. He added that he suspects cutting the fees would be seen as an “olive branch” to the business community and would spark good will.

Minner originally proposed that the city council approve cutting in half all Growth Management fees. However, Councilman Eugene Wolff expressed concern that cutting certain fees, such as the $50 land-clearing fee, could be mistaken as a sign that the city wants to promote land-clearing.

Councilwoman Andrea Coy agreed.

Minner said that the selective fee cuts would have the most direct impact on businesses. Those targeted cuts, he proposed, include sign reviews; site plan administrative approvals, major and minor modifications; and special use permits/special exemptions.

“This is good,” resident and businessman Damien Gilliams told the council. “But it’s peanuts. It’s not enough.”

He suggested that the city waive all the fees from Growth Management to truly help new businesses move in and existing businesses to redevelop.

The council did not appear receptive to cutting all the fees but did discuss looking at the fees from the Building Department.

Minner told the council that he was not prepared to discuss fees from the Building Department, which operates as an enterprise fund. As such, the Building Department is meant to be self-funded and self-sustaining.

Changes to the department’s fee structure could affect the department’s financial viability.

With a unanimous vote in favor of cutting a targeted fees in Growth Management, the new fee structure will be in effect through Nov. 30, 2011.

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