Supervisors tap brakes on sanitary permit fee hike

County officials want to see justification for proposed 30% increase in fees that haven’t changed in two decades
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press staff

A plan to increase sanitary permit application fees by as much as 30% was put on hold last week by Ozaukee County supervisors who wanted staff to provide justification for such a jump.

Under the proposal, the fee for a holding tank, for instance, would increase from $725 to $1,000, in-ground pressurized system fees would increase from $625 to $1,000 or $1,125 for systems that include pretreatment, and the fee for tank additions or replacements would increase from about $300 to $500.

Ozaukee County Land and Water Management Director Katie Vogeler told supervisors on the Natural Resources Committee that fees have not been increased for about two decades, except for the portion that goes to the state.

“Since 2000, fees have only been adjusted to reflect increases to the mandated state groundwater surcharge fee, currently at $100,” Vogeler said in a memo to the committee. “Permit fees are intended to cover the cost of permit review, installation inspections and continued maintenance involvement by this department.”

Ozaukee County charges less than Washington and Waukesha counties, whose fees regularly exceed $1,000, she said.

“This department provides better service for a lesser fee, placing departmental cost on the tax levy rather than the recipient of the said service,” Vogeler said.

Vogeler said the county issues an average of 129 permits per year.

“Using this average, we fail to collect between $35,475 and $41,925 of annual revenue in comparison to neighboring counties,” she wrote.

Increasing fees to match other counties “is a positive and creates cohesiveness with the businesses working in multiple counties,” Vogeler wrote.

Committee members were unconvinced.

“I’m not into raising prices just because our neighbor does,” Supr. Kurt Schoessow said.

Other supervisors agreed and said they would like to see some cost figures to justify the increases.

“We need a paper trail to justify it,” Supr. Tony Matera said.

Vogeler and her staff agreed to return to the committee in February with an explanation of costs.

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