Building permit fees could increase

Published 11:30 am Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fuel costs tied to field inspections are a primary reason Warren County’s building permit fees might be going up, Emergency Management Director John Elfer said Wednesday.

Elfer told the Vicksburg Lions Club the current $5 fee for developments valued at more than $500 and a $10 charge for buildings in floodplains net the permitting side of his department about $2,000 annually. Elfer has pushed county supervisors for a flat $25 fee for all residential and commercial sheds, gazebos, storage structures and other buildings.

“Well, that doesn’t pay for the gas that my inspector uses to go out and make sure you have the correct documents,” Elfer said. “We’re never gonna run the office with fees because we don’t know how many we’re going to write. Unlike the city, we don’t have electrical inspections, plumbing inspections, things like that.”

Totals from Elfer’s office that Warren County supervisors viewed earlier this week showed $2,270 from fees in 2012, a figure that he said would have been $9,025 with higher fees across the board. Elfer did not have a precise fuel usage breakdown for vehicles used by workers in his office, among them the floodplain and subdivision inspector. The emergency management and building permit functions were set to receive $217,813 in general funds for fiscal 2014, according to the county’s budget adopted in September. The level is $6,573 more than fiscal 2013 due to higher costs for retirement and health insurance.

Separately, Elfer said he will continue to conduct so-called “active shooter” classes to teach strategies in situations in public when shots are fired and there’s no time to act.

“I’ve trained over 1,500 people,” said Elfer, a former sheriff’s deputy. “This is not a buy a gun and shoot people class. This is what to do if you find yourself in a situation with an active shooter.

An active shooter is an individual who is actively engaged in killing people, Elfer said. Acting quickly is the key of the hourlong classes, which happen depending on class volume.

“You have four options — run, hide, fight or do nothing,” Elfer said. “If you do nothing, you will probably not survive the incident.”

Information on the next class in Warren County is available from the emergency management office, at 601-636-4415.