City consolidates fee schedule

Terry RogersGovernment

Milford City Council recently consolidated its fee schedule. The move for the consolidation was prompted by an Aid-In construction fee related to the Shawnee Acres pump station.

“The Shawnee Acres pump station was, within last couple of years, upgraded and expanded to encompass more capacity. From a sewer wastewater standpoint, we would like to recoup the costs that were expended by the city through the adoption of an aid-In construction fee,” Rob Pierce, City Planner, said. “This would be an additional tapping charge that any new developments that would utilize that pump station would pay so we could repeat the expansion of that facility that we provided to the developers.”

According to Pierce, the aid-in construction fee would be $771 per unit in any development that needed to tap into that pumping station. It is similar to a fee set for developers who tap into the pumping station constructed for Bayhealth whose cost was shared by the Wickersham property. This fee prompted staff to realize that they had different resolutions for sewer fees, water fees, electricity rates and more. In order to make it easier for city staff and the public who may need to determine their fees, staff felt it better to consolidate the fees into one schedule.

“We’ve consolidated those all into one city fee schedule that we will likely add additional items to. We didn’t have enough time to pull things out of the electric tier or do some other items that the finance department was interested in at this time,” Pierce said. “But we wanted to get this consolidated since we were making some revisions to the wireless facilities ordinance and adding that Aid-In construction charge. We added in the wireless facilities to the permit charge and a right of way license charge for an annual fee of $270 per location. There’s also a minor revision at the request of the Parks and Rec director for some of his park rates and facilities. We just added the one last item there says all of the park area must be approved by the Milford Parks and Rec at a rate of $50 per four hours for individuals and nonprofit renters and $100 for for-profit renters. We added the Aid In construction charge into the sewer section. So those are the only changes to the fees other than consolidating them all in one location. Hopefully going forward will present this to council at budget time every year.”

Councilman Andy Fulton questioned the $50 for four hours to rent parks, stating that he felt that was not an adequate price. He did not feel someone should be able to rent Bicentennial Park for just $50.

“You know, that was a good point. We could probably take another stab at that. When you highlight it like that,” Brad Dennehy, Director of Parks and Recreation, said. “Ordinarily we rent something when someone wants to have a small wedding in the park. I think that differentiation we’re trying to make there is someone wants to come in and run like I say the circus wants to come in which we had a couple of years ago, didn’t occur due to COVID. Obviously that’s different than someone just wanting to have a wedding on a Sunday in one of our park areas. But yeah, we can certainly take another stab at that.”

Councilwoman Katrina Wilson commented that just because someone rents an area of a park, it does not preclude others from using the park. She pointed out that most events in the parks are those where the public is invited. Councilman Todd Culotta felt that council should not hamstring an organization with high fees if they want to use part of the park.

“If somebody wants to set up a tournament for frisbee football and you know, you can’t walk through this area, that’s all roped off and you can’t walk through that area because that’s all roped off and hey, we rented this whole area for 50 bucks,” Councilman Fulton said. “So you can’t come into this areas because we’re playing here. And you know that turns into a lot of land if you set up three fields of frisbee, Frisbee or football or golf or whatever that is.”

Dennehy commented that Councilman Wilson was correct in that he did not recall ever closing a park to the public. He explained that they usually tell renters that the public would still be allowed in the park.

“I just know what our aspirations are on council to have a lot of open space,” Councilman Fulton said. “I just want to be sure we maintain our rights here.”

City Clerk Terri Hudson stated that the ordinance, if approved, would take effect tonight as there was no code amendment. Councilman Brian Baer asked if the fees for the fire company and police were enough to support those organizations.

“The police is a municipal facilities fund. We put money aside for improvements to police facility or municipal facility,” Lou Vitola, Finance Director, said. “The Carlisle enhancement fund, that money can only be used for capital equipment. So, when they’re buying new police or fire apparatus or doing improvements to their station or anything like that, that’s the only thing they can use that money for. And it is a percentage on the building permit. So, I think the only issue that I have is we’re also considering a sprinkler ordinance in the future that is again going to add more money to the building process. So that’s something council would need to wrestle with if you want to increase those fees. We do increase the cost of building homes within the city with these fees.”

Councilman Jason James explained that the enhancement fund for police is only about two years old while the Carlisle fund has never been exhausted. The fire company must make a request to use those funds for capital improvements. The ordinances both passed unanimously.

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