The Coastal Star

City boosts fees, takes on permit services to raise revenue: Delray Beach, Gulf Stream

By Margie Plunkett

Delray Beach commissioners signed on to an agreement to provide building permit and inspection services to Gulf Stream, a deal that could bring in $100,000 in permit fees at a time when municipalities are scouring every nook and cranny for new revenues.
The pact still must be reviewed and approved by Gulf Stream, which since 1985 has relied on Palm Beach County for the services. Gulf Stream wouldn’t pay for the services, but Delray Beach would keep all money collected from building fees. Municipalities throughout South Florida, in the final stages of the 2010 budget process, have seen income from property taxes shrink radically following the collapse of the housing market. The drop in property taxes has left gaping holes in budgets that have driven governments to scrutinize finances, searching for opportunities to boost revenue or slash spending.
Cutbacks in Palm Beach County pushed Gulf Stream to look for another provider for permitting and inspections, Gulf Stream Clerk Rita Taylor said. The county conducted less and less of the work at the closest offices to Gulf Stream, forcing contractors and the town on an inconvenient trek to Jog Road in West Palm Beach. County cutbacks also claimed the plan reviewer who handled Gulf Stream, she said.
Delray Beach staff recommended approval, noting the city had the capacity to take on the work. Gulf Stream is a residential community that’s not built out, with permitting conducted for new single-family homes and additions or renovations to existing home, a staff memo said. Gulf Stream reviews permits before the contractor applies to Delray Beach, looking at zoning, landscaping and architectural issues. The staff estimated the take from permits at about $100,000, based on results over the last two years.
In addition to the lure of permitting at Delray Beach’s nearby offices, the city offers Gulf Stream some inspection services the county did not. One example, the county issues permits for fences, but doesn’t inspect them because it’s overloaded, Taylor said, adding, “We would very much like to have that done.”

Recreation facility fees
Separately, Delray Beach could pull in an additional $46,730 in revenue for the coming fiscal year by changing rental fees for Park and Recreation facilities, a move commissioners also approved at the Aug. 18 meeting. Rental fees were charged for facilities, pavilions and fields, but not always consistently, according to Linda Karch, director of Parks and Recreation.
Under the new schedule of rental fees, homeowners and community/civic groups — which were not previously charged for facility use — are charged $30 per meeting. New facility rental fees include, for example, $90 for the first three hours at the “505” Teen Center facility and $20 for additional hours. Skate Park is $100 for the first three hours and $40 per additional hour. Renters who plan to charge admission would pay $250 for the first three hours plus 50 percent of ticket sales.
Pavilion fees are increased and made uniform, regardless of the facility’s size, at $50 for four hours and $90 all day, not including tax. Prices previously ranged from $30 to $35 for four hours and $60 to $70 for the day, according to Karch’s memo. Veterans Park Gazebo and Atlantic Dunes Park Pavilion, both popular for weddings, increased to $110 for two hours and to $200 for four hours. Veterans Park previously charged $85 for two hours and $170 for four hours, and Atlantic Dunes, $85 for four hours and $170 all day.
New field rental rates are $50 for two hours, compared with $35 previously, and the light fee will be $30 an hour, up from $10.

Beach parking fee increase

Delray Beach also will raise beach parking permit fees Oct. 1. Annual beach parking permits will increase to $80 plus tax from $60, according to Scott Aronson, Delray Beach parking management specialist.

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