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story.lead_photo.caption Currently, Fulton charges $5 for a demolition permit. Under a proposed fee increase, that cost would go up to $25 for a residential demolition and $50 for a commercial one. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

Calculating residential construction permit fees may soon get a lot simpler — but also pricier — for people building in Fulton.

Fulton City Council members got a first look at a proposed revamped fee structure during Tuesday evening's meeting. The council is currently in the process of reviewing potential major across-the-board changes to Fulton fees.

Under the new building permit fee structure, permits would generally cost more but would be easier to calculate.

"Our building permit fees haven't been increased since 2008," said Dennis Houchins, planning and protective services director.

Under the current system, construction permits are based on the size of the building: 7 cents per square foot for buildings up to 3,000 square feet, $75 plus six cents per square foot for 3,000-9,999 and so on. There are additional charges for each amp of electricity going into the service panel and each circuit, heating unit, air conditioning unit and plumbing fixture.

The new system charges — for one- and two-family dwellings — 20 cents per square foot of unfinished living space and five cents each per square foot of unfinished living space or garage. All the rest is simply included in the total.

A packet distributed to council members gives an example of a 1,200-square-foot home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a 440-square-foot garage, a 200 amp service panel, 25 circuits, one air conditioner, one heating unit and nine plumbing fixtures. The permit for that home would cost $151.50 under the current system and $262 under the new.

"I tried to simplify it for homeowners," Houchins said. "For commercial construction, the permit application is usually submitted by an architect, so they have all that information available."

If the council approves the changes, commercial building permits will more or less continue to use the old system, but prices will go up. A permit will cost 20 cents per square foot for up to 3,000 square feet, 15 cents per square foot for 3,000-9,000, and 10 cents per square foot for 10,000 and more. Each extra charge listed above is doubling in cost.

One example provided by the city imagines a 3,000-square-foot building with 400 amp service, 68 circuits, three air conditioners, three heating units and eight plumbing fixtures. Under the old prices, that permit would cost $368; under the new, $916.

"I think the costs still look reasonable," said Bill Johnson, Fulton director of administration. "In my last town, the permit fee was one percent of the total cost of construction."

The proposal Houchins put forward also calls for increasing demolition permit fees: from $50 to $25 for residential and $50 for commercial. He noted the city does not charge to disconnect utilities at a demolition site.

"We disconnect anything they want us to," he said.

Lastly, it also calls for doubling sign permit costs to $40 for the first sign and $10 for each additional sign.

Discussion of fees charged by other Fulton departments will continue at future Fulton City Council meetings.

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