Redding decides between increased building fees and public safety

Redding City Council members will be choosing whether to increase building permit fees, planning and recreation fees, and hospitality industry contributions or cut four police and three firefighting positions.

Some fear increased fees could send people packing, while others say we need more and better public safety or people will wind up leaving because of crime.

This comes as hundreds are deciding where to rebuild after the Carr Fire.

"A lot of people are already on the line, and it's one more thing," said Real Estate Broker Anje Walfoort about her clients leaving Redding.

"So many people have called and said, 'We're not sure which direction we are going, we are thinking about leaving the area. We are renting for a while. We're not sure if we will be able to rebuild'. So, adding one more thing to that list can be a deciding factor for people."

Redding City Manager Barry Tippin said even with the increase, Redding would still have low fees compared to Chico, Woodlands, Shasta Lake, Shasta County, and Oroville. He also points out permits for Carr Fire rebuilds get a 20 percent discount.

He said if the fee increase doesn't pass, the neighborhood policing unit would have to disband and the city may close a fire station.

"Essentially, what's happening now is the money that we are not collecting through the building permit fee process is being subsidized by general taxes," said Tippin. "Those general taxes are what pays for police and firefighters. So, the council has to make a determination on whether they want to use those funds for public safety personnel or whether they want to subsidize the building industry."

Redding resident Johnni Hansen agrees with increasing fees saying she's attended many of the budget meetings.

"If we want to be a big city we've got to have law enforcement and fire protection and it's just not safe in this city when we only have one or two firemen responding to fires; we need to have enough firemen, not reduce the number."

Walfoort said there must be other options.

"I've been a huge advocate when it comes to crime and there's several solutions out there, but we can't keep putting it on the people to pay and pay and pay without a plan in place."

She adds that the city should also focus more on being business and developer friendly.

"So many people are just wanting the city to just reach out and go 'Okay, we want to make this a business-friendly and developer-friendly city and we need to keep our costs lower and attract more business and state that, 'Yes we are here for you. ' Rather than sending builders down to Anderson where they have a more business friendly attitude and lower fees and they want your business," said Walfoort.

Hansen believes the money needs to come from somewhere and she thinks people will still build in Redding.

"People who live in Redding, love Redding," said Hansen. It's a gorgeous community. Will it cost a little bit more to build? Yes, but over a 30-year mortgage it's going to be amortized out."

Tippin said the building permit fees are based on the value of the construction project. They have a table of values and subsequent permit fees. Tippin said Redding's current table was based in 2005.

Walfoort says from the Carr Fire rebuilders she's worked with it, varies on how many will get the building permit covered by insurance. Some will pay out of pocket.

The council will ultimately have to decide. They are expected to vote on Tuesday, January 15 at the City Council meeting at 6:00 p.m. They need a majority vote for it to pass. A public comment period will take place before.

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