For fourth time since beginning of pandemic, County Commission agrees to reductions in certain Building Department fees

Action in effect through April 2021

The County Commission sits in session on Aug. 31. File image

Once again, the Sarasota County Commission has agreed to keep lower Building Department fees in place, as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues.

For the fourth time this year, the board members voted unanimously on Dec. 8 to continue the 25% reduction in certain fees. The schedule will remain in effect through April 30, 2021, “to assist in the reopening and economic recovery of County residents and local businesses, thereby benefitting the general public,” as a memo provided to the commissioners in advance of their Dec. 8 regular meeting put it.

The board members first approved the reduction in fees by unanimous vote on June 3. The other two votes occurred on July 8 and Oct. 6. The last one kept the revised fee schedule in place through the end of December.

The latest vote, as with previous ones, came in the commission’s approval of its Consent Agenda of routine business items. No one commented on the issue, which is typical with Consent Agenda action.

The affected fees are contained in Section 2 of the County Code, as staff noted in earlier memos on the subject. Among them are fees for reviews of plans for new residential and commercial construction; reviews of plans for residential and commercial alterations and renovations; inspections, which are priced according to value of the construction; and permits for miscellaneous projects, including re-roofing, dock installations, signage, aboveground pools and spas; and the installation of new doors and windows when the opening sizes will be changed.

These are among the affected building permit fees. These are the figures put into effect this spring. The reduced fees are 25% lower. Image courtesy Sarasota County

In spite of the pandemic, reports this year have shown that permits for construction have continued to climb. The most recent data The Sarasota News Leader found, which focuses on October, said the total number of single-family home permits issued that month was 249, reflecting a value of $51,991,648. That compares to 169 single-family home permits issued in October 2019; those had a value of $33,049,122.

A bar graph provided by county staff shows the October figures exceeding the comparable monthly numbers going back to 2011. Based on the News Leader’s review of that graph, the month with the previous high for total number of single-family home permits was March 2017.

This graph shows details about single-family home construction permits issued by the county Building Department through October. Image courtesy Sarasota County

In September, the number of single-family home permits issued was 163, the county’s economic report for that month shows. Their total value was $39,047,916, the report says.

In September 2019, the permits totaled 118, with a value of $22,812,305.

In March, when the first COVID-19 cases were reported in Florida, the number of single-family home permits issued was 197, compared to 148 in March 2019. The March permits this year reflected construction value of $39,329,805.

This graph shows details about single-family home construction permits issued by the county Building Department through April. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Then, in April, even though Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a “shelter-at-home” Executive Order, the single-family home permits issued in the county added up to 145, compared to 119 in April 2019. Those permits in April of this year represented a value of $32,890,117.

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