Despite protests from builders and other businesses, the County Council voted to raise permit and inspection fees Monday night to bring in about $5.6 million in additional revenue.
The council's unanimous vote was expected, because the fee increases were included in County Executive Robert R. Neall's $616.6 million budget approved by the council May 31. Most increases will take effect in mid-August, 45 daysafter Neall signs them into law.
Builders aren't the only ones who will pay more for county services. Restaurants will have to pay $150 for county health inspections. There is no fee for the inspections now.
The county will raise $131,000 by boosting admission to parks and raising the age for free senior admission from 55 to 62. Those increases are set to take effect July 1, along with increases in emergency 911 service, trash collection and water and sewer charges.
About $505,000 of the building fee increases will come from building, mechanical, electrical and plumbing permits.
For example, a building permit for a $100,000 house will increase from $360 to $427. The cost of a percolation test to see if a septic tank can be installed will increase from $35 to $100. A septic installation permit will increase from $15 to $100.
County officials say the increases are warranted because they haven't been raised since 1982. They say the new charges reflect the cost of performing inspections and issuing permits.
But John Dodds, speaking for the Anne Arundel Trade Council and the Associated Builders and Contractors, said a recession was a bad time to be raising the fees.
"Thetiming for increasing the fees couldn't be worse," Dodds said. "These are cost items that are passed right on to consumers. They should go up for a reason, not because they haven't gone up in a long time."
In other action Monday night, the council approved about $5.4 million for the Board of Education to pay for services the school system has already performed, such as special education, salaries, transportation and maintenance. The money was transferred from other school board accounts to cover end-of-the-year overruns in some programs. Council members closely questioned school officials on the cost of the programs at a meeting two weeks ago.
The county administration introduced a bill extending the county's five commercial bingo licenses until Dec. 31. The licenses are set to expire July 1. The county has placed a moratorium on new licenses while a task force works on a new law to regulate the industry.