At a meeting with the Missoula County Commissioners on Thursday, the Public Works Building Division asked for fee increases across the board for various building permit fees.

Nicole White, the Program and Development Manager for the County Building Department for the Missoula County Public Works Building Division, explained the purpose for fee increase proposals.

“First of all, we haven’t had any fee increases since 2011 because we haven’t really needed to,” said White. “However, in the last 10 years, especially last year (2019) one of the biggest reasons we have to raise fees is that the City of Missoula is annexing more areas near the development park and the airport, and since that used to belong to the county, we would receive the revenue from those fees, which we can no longer do. Because they were all commercial businesses, they brought in a substantial amount of revenue.”

White said the county receives no tax dollars to fund the Public Works Building Division.

“We take no tax dollars or general fund money,” she said. “We are completely self-funded both operationally and for personnel. According to state law, we are only allowed to use permit fee money to run our program. We are allowed to keep a cash reserve in case the economy goes down and the construction industry takes a hit so that we can continue operating. However, according to state law, we are only allowed to keep a year’s worth of cash reserves.”

A letter has been circulating from a former Public Works employee that there recently was a cash reserve balance of $800,000, however, White disputes that number.

“$800,000 isn’t necessarily correct,” she said. “Right now we’re substantially under that amount, and our annual operating costs for personnel and other budget items are over $1 million, so we still have a several hundred thousand dollar gap before we would go over that maximum mark.”

Attached here, find the county’s proposal for increases in various fees for construction for Missoula County, keeping in mind that the city and the county have totally separate building divisions and charge separate fees. There are mechanical, electrical, plumbing, inspection and overall construction fees that vary from project to project.

Naturally, any project within the city limits would be under the city of Missoula’s permit fee structure, and any project in the county would be subject to county permitting fees.

Click on the link above to see the proposed new permit fee structure.