by Tammy Sakry
The new 2012 Ramsey fees and rates have been set, but not without some controversy.
At the Dec. 13 Ramsey City Council meeting, Councilmembers Colin McGlone and Jason Tossey voted against the usually routine item.
While there were some decreases, they do not go far enough, McGlone said.
Before approving any new schedule, he wants to go down the 490-item list, line by line, and determine what the fees should be, he said.
The changes that were made are a start, especially the changes in the building fees, but he agrees with McGlone, Tossey said.
There needs to be more work done on the rates and fees, but if the council does not approve them, then the 2011 rates and fees will remain in place, said Mayor Bob Ramsey.
The city will continue to identify areas that can be decreased and adjust them later in the year, he said.
Councilmember Randy Backus agreed.
“We can always work on these… It’s a step in the right direction and if we don’t (pass the rates and fees) we will end up with higher fees,” he said.
The rates and fees, especially for developers, are set to pass along the city’s costs for inspections and such, said Councilmember David Elvig.
If the city does not charge enough, the costs will be subsidized by the taxpayers, he said.
“I don’t want to subsidize every single building project in the city,” Elvig said.
If reducing the fee brings more development into the city, it will grow the tax base, Councilmember Jeff Wise said.
“Empty dirt does not pay diddley,” he said.
If you have a liquor establishment in Ramsey and want to change its name, be prepared to shell out a little bit of cash.
In 2011, there would have been no charge, but the business owners will have to pay $50 for the filing costs to have the permit reissued.
Also going up is the service availability charge (SAC) per address, which will be changing from $2,230 to $2,365, but the SAC handling fee will drop from $200 to $25.
“The change is reflective of the actual cost for administrative time,” said Finance Officer Diana Lund.
The water availability charge (WAC) per address is decreasing from $1,701 to $1,640.
While some of the water, sewer and storm trunk rates have been drawn back to the 2010 amounts, a decrease of 3.7 percent, they could change again after the city has completed the comprehensive sewer and water study, Lund said.
Developers will notice the most difference.
Instead of paying the city $225 per street sign to install them, the developers will now have the responsibility to have the signs installed.
Developers will also have to take on installing street lights instead of paying the city $1,700 per light to install the lights as they did in 2011.
The city also eliminated the $100 tree and sod escrow it required in 2011.
To connect homes to the sewer system, developers will pay $1,271 for the connection charge, $47 less than 2011.
For commercial or industrial sites to connect to the sewer, it will cost $3,824 per acre, a decrease of $141 per acre.
The sewer lateral benefits charge will be decreasing by $142 to $3,847 for 2012.
Residents will be paying a higher storm sewer charge in 2012, which is increasing from $9.27 per quarter to $9.55 per quarter.
Commercial properties will also see a storm sewer fee increase from $37.08 to $38.20 per quarter per residential equivalent unit.
But the trunk charge will decrease from $465 to $448 for residents and from $4,630 to $4,465 per residential equivalents for commercial properties.
The cost of city water service is also going up in 2012.
The charge for minimum water usage per quarter will increase from $34.05 to $35.70.
Various levels of water conservation rates are also going up between 11 to 17 cents, depending on the level of usage.
To connect to city water will be less expensive in the new year.
A residential connection will drop from $2,308 to $2,226 and the commercial and industrial connections will be $8,337, $308 less than last year.
The water lateral benefit charge will also be less in 2012, dropping from $9,102 to $8,777.
One business that will be paying more in 2012 will be the pawn shop.
Licenses for pawn brokers/precious metal license will be increasing to $4,000 from the 2011 amount of $3,000.
The change brings Ramsey more in line with what neighboring cities charge, which is up to $7,500, said Police Chief Jim Way.
Having this type of business in town is more work for the police, with weekly records check and the likelihood of stolen property ending up in the shop, he said.
This is the first time Ramsey has increased the pawn broker license fee since 2004.
While the city eliminated the cat licensing fee, the cost for unlicensed dogs has increase.
If Fido leaves home without a license and is caught, it will now cost his owner $145, $20 more, to get him out of the pound.
The impound fee pays for the boarding cost with the Anoka Police Department, administration and transportation costs, Lund said.
If the dog has a license, the dog is usually taken home, she said.
The new fees will be effective Jan. 16.
Tammy Sakry is at firstname.lastname@example.org