, Newburyport, MA

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January 26, 2013

Inspectional services fees rise in Newbury

NEWBURY — Some fees for inspectional services are going up later this year, but building commissioner Sam Joslin said most residents will be only minimally impacted.

Beginning on July 1, re-inspection fees will increase in order to bring them in line with current fees for plumbing, gas and electric. The residential square-foot dollar amount will match estimated square-foot construction costs. The cost to transfer permits and zoning verification letters will match an average of surrounding towns. Joslin also added language to double the permit fee for performing work without a permit to specify that the penalty carries a minimum fee of $200.

Town Administrator Tracy Blais said the department heads review their fee schedules annually and make sure they are in line with what other comparable towns are charging. Conservation agent Doug Packer said it was important to “be careful that your building fees do not become a tax” but noted that Newbury charges around 75 percent of what other towns in the area do.

“I hate raising costs and fees,” said selectmen Chairman Joe Story. He stressed that fees should reflect what the Newbury departments need and not be based on what other towns charge. His colleague Geoff Walker noted that Joslin had given the matter careful thought and was raising the fees for a reason.

“The proposed changes are expected to have a minimum impact as the increases are on seldom-used fees,” Joslin wrote to selectmen in a memo outlining the changes. The board approved the fee increases at their last regular board meeting.

According to the fee schedule, a building permit application is $25 plus $12 per thousand or portion thereof, with no maximum. The cost of work is based on fair market value of labor and materials. Building permits are not required for non-structural repairs equal to or less than $1,000. But homeowners must notify the building inspector of these types of repairs to ensure they are completed according to the state building code.

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