The County Council may raise construction permit and inspection fees, a move builders say would further burden their recession-battered industry.
The council will conduct a public hearing before voting on the increases tonight. County Executive Robert R. Neall proposed about $5.6 million in miscellaneous fee increases as part of a $616.6 million budget approved by the council two weeks ago.
About $505,000 of the fee increases would come from building, mechanical, electrical and plumbing permits.
The county would raise $131,000 by boosting admission to parks and raising the age for free senior admission from 55 to 62. It would raise $743,000 from restaurant and other Department of Health inspections.
Building trade groups opposed the fee increases at a hearing last month. One group, the Master Electricians Association of Anne Arundel County, threatened court action to block a vote on the bill.
However, the group met withofficials and agreed on a compromise bill, said Titus Ashburn, the group's legislative chairman.
The association had strongly protested raising the penalty from $15 to $40 for failing to get electrical work inspected before a permit ran out. Under the compromise, Ashburn said the penalty would increase to $20, and contractors could get more time to complete work.
Two other building groups, the AssociatedBuilders and Contractors and the Anne Arundel Trade Council, may protest the fee increases a tonight's meeting.
The groups sent a letter to Neall and council members saying a recession was a bad time to raise fees. They recommended smaller increases, and said the county should speed up the permit process to reduce delays and bring more money into the county's coffers.
"We understand the need to increase some of the costs," said Richard Alt of the Associated Builders and Contractors. "We would like to see increased service for the money."
Council Chairwoman Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River, said she expects the fee increases to pass.
"We sympathize with them," Clagett said. "It's a bad time for them, but it's a bad time for the taxpayers, also."
Tonight's meeting will begin at 7:30 in the Arundel Center on Calvert Street in Annapolis.