Lewiston councilors review proposed Twin Cities permit fees increase

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LEWISTON — Simplified planning and permitting fees would mean $33,000 more revenue, city officials said Tuesday.

City councilors heard a report on making fees match in Lewiston and Auburn. It’s part of a new shared software package the cities hope to bring online in July. Staff from each city made a similar presentation Monday to Auburn councilors.

Auburn’s annual revenue from fees would increase 17 percent if the changes were adopted; Lewiston’s revenues would increase 22 percent — from $147,500 to an estimated $180,500.

It’s still less than several Maine cities collect, said Ian Houseal, special assistant to the Lewiston city administrator.

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Under Lewiston’s current fee structure, a developer would pay the city about $347 to build a ranch house with an attached garage. The developer would pay $292 in Auburn to build the same house.

That would increase to $367 in each city under the new fee structure. Fees for the same building would cost $1,064 in Bangor, $1,840 in Portland and $2,280 in South Portland.

With the new software, developers would get a fee schedule that’s easier to understand and faster to navigate, Houseal said. They’d also get an automated system, letting them take care of much of their paperwork without having to set foot in a city planning department.

“And we get the ability to better track our costs,” Houseal said. “We can easily see exactly how we are spending our time, how much work is devoted to code enforcement issues or site reviews.”

Lewiston and Auburn began working in October toward adopting a shared software system. They agreed to purchase Georgia-based EnerGov Solutions’ suite of six software modules designed especially for community government.

The suite includes modules that keep track of development projects working through the city review process, that monitor building permits, track building inspections and automatically calculate fees and keep track of special licenses, including liquor licenses and special amusement permits.

Another module lets citizens and contractors take care of many city government functions over the Internet, including applying for permits, checking status of development projects and scheduling inspections.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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