City council eyes building permit fee hike
BY ELIZABETH WILSON
It will cost city of Medford residents more to build or alter their homes under a proposal to increase permit fees for the first time since 2011.
At the Medford Committee of the Whole and City Council meetings on January 23, 2023, Building Inspector Robert Christensen came to get Council’s approval for adjusting building fees for Medford to match those of other Taylor County municipalities, and of those in other counties that Christensen serves.
“The current fees were last reviewed in March 2011. A review at this time makes sense as costs have risen in the last 11 years,” said Christensen on the matter.
To which District 4 Alderman Michael Bub asked “Besides that we haven’t raised it in a while, is there a need?”
He went on to criticize this as a reason, “I don’t like how ‘we haven’t raised the rates in 10 years, so let’s raise the rates’. I think people building homes think that is expensive enough.”
Christensen explained that there have been increases in prices over the past 11 years, and that the reasons for updating them were to match other areas, especially those that Christensen covers. He also stated that these are the same rates that the state uses.
The changes proposed included changing the building fees for new homes to $400 for the first 800 square feet of finished space plus $.30 per square foot of additional finished space and $.10 per square foot of unfinished spaced. Modular home fees would be $400.
The current permits for homes is $350 for modular with the price for a permit ranging from $350 to $450 based on total square footage of the structure. The proposed permit change adds a level of complexity with the distinction between finished and unfinished space. Under the proposed plan, a home with 2,000 square feet of finished space would have a permit fee of $760, which is almost double the current fee for a home under 2,500 square feet of $400.
The proposed fee changes also add new fees for the installation of a new furnace at $30 and the replacement of a furnace, water heater, or boiler at $20.
The proposed fee increase was passed by the Committee of the Whole for recommendation to the City Council.
In other business: Sue Emmerich and Billie Hartwig of the Medford Chamber of Commerce gave a presentation on what the Chamber did over 2022, including adding 70 new members and throwing events such as Parkfest.
The City received an annexation request from Andrea and Dale Neubauer for a small piece of land in a property at 1190 S. Eighth Street from Winding Brook Lodge. The property is the current office of Neubauer Plumbing along with two storage unit buildings.
The Committee of the Whole recommended a change to a City Ordinance referring to the construction and repair of sidewalks to Council. This change is merely changing the titles “City Administrator” and “the Director of Public Works” to “City Coordinator” and “Street & Water Superintendent,” as those are the positions currently employed by the City of Medford.
The Committee of the Whole Recommended to Council the final designs for the Whelen Park and Bandshell projects. The Whelen Park project includes a pavilion with bathrooms and a concession stand, which will host the farmer’s market every Tuesday during the harvest season, as well as other events. There also will be a splash pad. The city would also like to purchase synthetic ice panels to allow for outdoor ice skating under the pavilion in the winter months. Bub voted against the recommendation expressing concern that the splash pad would become a maintenance issue for the city going forward.
The Bandshell is proposed to be located on the North end of the gravel parking lot along Centennial Drive.
The Council approved the submission of a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation cost-share grant application for the purpose of funding demolition and improvements for 128 S. Whelen Ave.
The Council approved the resolution authorizing the submission of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation vibrant space grant to fund improvements and creation of a downtown park.
The next City Council meeting is on February 7, at 6 p.m., and the next Committee of the Whole meeting is on February 13, at 6 p.m.
Voting for the Spring Primary Election is on February 21.
Lauren Berg was given her Medford Police Department Law Enforcement Oath of Honor after beginning her employment on January 6.
ELIZABETH WILSON/THE STAR NEWS
Members of the committee of the whole approved the final plan for the redevelopment of the Whelen St. parking lot into a park area with a shelter and splash pad.