TLTI approves user fee changes

·3 min read

User fees are increasing, often slightly, for a range of services in the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands.

Township council's committee of the whole has approved staff recommended amendments to the township's general rates and fees.

While staffers did not provide comparative data from last year highlighting all the changes (last year's fees are available on the township website) they did point out the larger differences.

As finance director Kate Tindal explained, most of the changes were fairly minor, such as a $2 increase for refreshment vehicle licensing, up from $508 to $510, or the wrecking yard license annual fee up $4 from $51 to $55.

"For the most part it was trying to round fees up or make them easier to deal with as transactions at the front counter, and eliminating some fees that are no longer applicable," said Tindal.

The biggest changes are in building permit fees, where there are small increases to the demolition permit, annual permit renewal fee, transfer permit and temporary tent fee "to make the cost consistent with the minimum administration fee for a permit application," Tindal noted in her report to council.

The most significant change is for a building permit for construction projects valued at $30,000 or more. In the past the fee was $140, but that has now been increased to a $500 deposit.

"It's not a fee, it’s a deposit, and it comes off the cost of the building permit when the applicant follows through on the construction," said township planner Marnie Venditti.

Venditti said the fee is designed to recover the cost of staff time reviewing and circulating building plans.

"If they walk away, the $500 covers staff time reviewing plans, and zoning, and circulating the plans to the conservation authority and health unit, because we've had that happen where people walk away after staff have spent significant time and effort reviewing plans," said Venditti.

The schedule also includes some minor increases under finance, including a $4.25 increase to tax certificates, up from 50.75 to $55, and bounced cheques up from $30.50 to $35. Fees for maps and pins have been eliminated from the schedule since the township no longer provides those.

Other changes include small increases under community services such as pavilion rental (up from $45 to $50) and Kendrick Park admission rates. The latter will be increasing to $3 per adult (from $2), and $10 per family (from $5) and a season's pass is going up to $50 from $40.

There are no changes proposed for waste disposal sites, or public works. The Fire Department fees now include fees for open-air burn which were not previously included.

The only other significant changes are under the planning fee schedule for 2021 intended to "make the fee structure for applications more consistent," said Tindal.

"There have been minor increases to some of the fees, based on a review of surrounding municipalities, township planning fees are generally lower," wrote Tindal in her report and presentation to the committee.

Meanwhile, some planning fees have been eliminated altogether, including, for example, the doubling of fees for an application where construction has been done without a permit.

"If construction or property development occurs without required permits there are other enforcement options available to the township; this should not impact the application fee to bring a property into compliance," said Tindal.

Overall, the committee was receptive to the changes, recognizing the need to regularly review township fees, but said that in future it would like staff to highlight all the changes in the report.

Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times