Dallas Faces Backlash Over Proposed Building Fee Surge

Nomad

Well-known member
Aug 26, 2023
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The City of Dallas is mulling over a hefty increase in building fees, particularly in multi-family permits, soaring from $225 to $652 per unit. Industry leaders worry this could stall or shift projects, which might impact affordable housing needs. Delays in deciding on the new fee structure are being considered by the City Council as an annual loss of $20 million due to outdated fees. While some urge a swift implementation to curb financial losses, concerns linger about the potential consequences on single-family homes and overall construction expenses in Dallas. A vote on the matter is expected on March 27.
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Dallas, Texas, United States
For something being about affordable housing, they sure like to charge a ton for permits. I get that some permits need to cost a bit, because you're probably spending that or above that for whatever project it is. But $652 a permit for each unit is crazy to me. It's as if they don't want people getting permits at reasonable prices anymore.
 
I mean, I'm in a neighboring city (we share borders and are located within the same county) and our cost per unit is $450. $652 is way too high and more than anyone else in this area charges. While I understand the need to balance out your services vs what you take in....we aren't a private company and our end game isn't about net profit. My annual intake doesn't cover my salaries and budget either and probably never will. They should think about taking a measured approach to increasing fees....say 5-7% each year until they reach their desired rate. That seems more palatable than just increasing from $225 to $652 overnight.
 
I mean, I'm in a neighboring city (we share borders and are located within the same county) and our cost per unit is $450. $652 is way too high and more than anyone else in this area charges. While I understand the need to balance out your services vs what you take in....we aren't a private company and our end game isn't about net profit. My annual intake doesn't cover my salaries and budget either and probably never will. They should think about taking a measured approach to increasing fees....say 5-7% each year until they reach their desired rate. That seems more palatable than just increasing from $225 to $652 overnight.

How much of the budget should come from revenues vs. taxpayers is fundamentally a political question that each jurisdiction has to answer for itself. The fact that Dallas went a whole decade without fee changes implies to me that they haven't historically had much pressure to cover staffing costs with permit fees. But now they're in a situation where they're $20 million in the hole each year, a gap that's caught the attention of City Council (with good reason). What I'm not clear about is whether they're trying to shift from having that huge $20 million deficit to offsetting costs 100% with fees...that would really be a complete 180 in terms of their budget management philosophy, wouldn't it? If they are, in fact, shooting for some kind of reasonable middle ground (e.g., $10 million deficit within five years) with their 2,700% fee increase, well then maybe that magnitude of increase is justified and is just what they need to do?

@SamHam_87, it sounds like you actually manage the building/planning department in your TX jurisdiction so it's really interesting hearing your perspective. @W3 Planning and Research also used to manage a building/planning department in AZ and I recall he mentioned back in this post that their philosophy was always that "budget should be completely covered by the costs of the permits (minus code enforcement activities) so that the tax payers aren't paying for developers permits." It's just interesting seeing how perspectives vary between all you local managers out there :).
 
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