New fees in Suffolk

Published 9:32 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2015

With the arrival of the beginning of the city’s fiscal year, residents and businesses will encounter a range of new and increased fees and taxes.

However, one of them will not be the fee to adopt dogs and cats from the Suffolk Animal Care Center, which originally was proposed to rise.

City Council approved a fee schedule that included a $10 increase in the fees, from $75 to $85 for cats and from $95 to $105 for dogs.

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But after the vote, the Suffolk Humane Society got wind of the increase and raised the alarm.

“Suffolk Humane Society adopts a large number of animals per year from Suffolk Animal Care Center, and even a small increase in costs impacts our ability to find homes for adoptable animals,” said Eileen Gizara, executive director of the Suffolk Humane Society. “I am pleased that City Council saw fit to return the adoption fees to the original cost. Reversing the decision will allow us to continue to help animals here in Suffolk.”

City Council is scheduled to vote on the amended animal adoption fees at this Wednesday’s meeting. Interim City Manager Patrick Roberts told council members recently that the approved budget did not depend on the increase to fund services at the animal care center.

The real estate tax rate rises to $1.07 per $100 of assessed value, with costs for water and sewer rising as well. The water rate is now $8.86 per 100 cubic feet, a hike of 57 cents. The sewer rate goes up 27 cents, to $6.74.

Meter service charges are going up, too, from $6.40 to $7 per month for most residential meters.

A variety of other fees are going up as well.

A new fee for new, replacement or additional recycling carts is $60.

Fireworks permits, required by city code regardless of where they are located, are now $150, while there was no charge before. Tent permits are required for any temporary structure that covers an area greater than 900 square feet, regardless of the location, unless used exclusively for recreational camping.

The police department has hiked a number of fees, including for records checks, accident reports, incident reports, fingerprints, solicitation permits and concealed weapons permits.

A number of traffic engineering fees also have changed. Inspection services are now $70 an hour.

A traffic signal inspection is now $18,000 per location. The fee “had unintentionally fallen off the schedule and is being placed back on,” city spokesman Tim Kelley said. It actually is a reduction from a past $25,000 fee, which was through a consultant. The inspections are now being completed by a city employee, Kelley said. The fee is charged whenever a developer or project installs or modifies a traffic signal, and the inspection ensures that all work is up to standard and is what the city specified, Kelley said.

Communities that request a golf cart study now will pay a flat rate — $1,600 per application. Kelley said the fee is in line with the hourly rate that was being charged before and was changed to a flat fee so communities know what to expect. It is charged when communities request a study to determine whether they can safely operate golf carts in their neighborhood.