The Bellevue City Council on Nov. 6 was briefed on proposed changes to Development Services permit fees and rates. The proposed update, which was informed in part by comprehensive study, was aimed at reviewing the city’s financial practices and maintaining customer service levels. Development Services incorporates staff from multiple departments and helps homeowners, business owners and professionals in the construction industry navigate the permitting process.
The city’s consultant ultimately concluded the following:
• Cost recovery objectives set by the council remain in-line with best practices.
• The city has sound financial planning and forecasting methods.
• To minimize major fee and rate changes, the city should continue to maintain its financial reserves.
• These reserves should target, if necessary, prepaid work, technology needs and core staffing, in case of an economic downturn.
Taking into account these findings and using the same methodology, the proposal calls for hourly rates for review and inspection services to be adjusted within a range of 3.6 to 6.9 percent. Building permit fees, which are based on the value of construction, would see an increase of 3 percent, based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers.
The proposed changes would preserve Bellevue’s regional rate competitiveness when compared with other local cities and counties. No new fees are included in the proposal.
The discussion on Nov. 6 is also part of the mid-biennium budget process, mandated by state law. The process provides an opportunity for modifications to the amended 2017-18 Operating Budget and 2017-23 Capital Investment Program plan. A required public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20. Adoption, including the new Development Services update, could take place as early as Nov. 27. If approved, the new rates and fees would go into effect in January.
A full breakdown of the proposal can be found in the agenda materials.
Puget Sound Regional Council interest statement
Council members were also briefed on proposed amendments to the Puget Sound Regional Council’s “Vision 2040” plan. The amendments, drafted by PSRC’s Growth Management Policy Board, revise requirements and create new designations for different types of growth and manufacturing centers. Downtown Bellevue is currently one of 29 designated regional growth centers and the city has expressed concern that expanded designations could dilute the value of being a center and increase the number of places competing for limited regional transportation funds.
Vision 2040 is an overarching regional plan for accommodating the anticipated influx of one million people and 800,000 jobs by 2040 in the larger region of Kitsap, King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Bellevue’s Comprehensive Plan accommodates the city’s share of that growth primarily in downtown, the designated regional growth center.
Council members unanimously adopted an interest statement that supports a list of clear and measurable criteria for each designation. It will be incorporated into a letter due to the board by Nov. 8.
Arts Commission appointment
Later during the regular session, the council voted unanimously to appoint Ashmita Gulati to Position 3 on the Arts Commission. Gulati’s term will run until May 31, 2020.
The commission advises the council on arts and cultural projects. Current initiatives include the “Creative Edge” economic strategy, a Grand Connection art and cultural plan and Meydenbauer Bay Park public art.