It will cost a little bit more this year to construct a driveway or display a sign in the town of Kensington, after the Town Council raised permit fees Nov. 19.
Kensington raises rates annually based on the Washington-Baltimore Consumer Price Index, which rose 3.6 percent this year, said Town Manager Sanford Daily. In making the adjusted increase, he said some fees are rounded up to the next whole number.
“We round them in some areas,” he said. “Sometimes it’s easier to just go to the next even round number.”
Some fees rose 20 to 40 percent, such as the town building permit, whose minimum was raised from $80 to a minimum of $100.
Town sign permit fees were consolidated so that a 1 to 74-square-foot sign now costs $100. Previously, a sign under 25 square feet cost $60, while a sign 25 to 49 square feet costs $70, and a sign 50 to 74 square feet cost $80.
A number of municipalities locally and around the country use the consumer price index for fee increases, said Tom Reynolds, director of education services for the Maryland Municipal League, a nonprofit that advocates for local government. Frederick County links water and sewer capacity fees to the CPI, while Alexandria, Va., uses the CPI to calculate sewer tap fees. Around the country, he said the CPI has been applied to everything from ambulance fees to elevator inspection fees.
“Part of what I see in justifying this is a certain transparency,” Reynolds said. “Citizens, property owners know where these changes are coming from.”
However, nearby town of Chevy Chase and Somerset don’t base their permits fees on the CPI.
Every other year the town of Chevy Chase revises its fees, which are based on the cost to the town of processing a permit application, said Town Manager Todd Hoffman. Somerset looks at its fees annually as part of the budget process, said Mayor Jeffrey Slavin. He said fees are intended to be competitive with nearby municipalities and cover the cost of staff time.
“It’s always too bad that rates go up, but the town needs it I guess,” said Vicky Surles, administrator of the Wheaton & Kensington Chamber of Commerce. “Everybody thinks it’s terrible that you raise rates, but you need the money to do things.”