City considers switching to pay to plan

Prineville Community Development Department may become fee-supported
The Prineville Community Development Department - made up of planning, engineering and public works - may soon be on par with other cities in central Oregon as a 100-percent fee-supported department.
   "This fee structure will put our fees more in alignment with the fees charged by other cities in central Oregon," Community Development Director Ricky Sites said. "They will still be less, for the most part, than Bend and Redmond."
   The department recently entered into a contract with the international consulting firm Maximus to analyze the city's fee structure and determine whether a fee-supported department would be feasible. The findings were presented to city councilors on April 22 by Dan Edds of Maximus.
   After deliberation, the council asked Sites and her department to re-convene with Maximus to come up with three options for a new fee structure that will provide 100 percent recovery of cost without utilizing the general fund.
    "Basically, the community development department is expected to be a fee-supported department. That's the basis of this," Sites said. "We're looking at whether we can make it happen."
   Currently, the department is run by a combination of fees and the city's general fund. The fees affect anyone who files a land use application with the city.
   The initial study by Maximus looked into the actual cost of running the department and the actual cost of providing each service under the fee structure.
   "As we did that, we went through each and every fee, how they're developed, what kinds of activities go into each one and what it costs hourly with direct and indirect costs," Sites said.
   This information was compiled by Maximus into a draft model of a fee structure for the 135 services the city provides. One question that arose out of this is whether some fees should be growth related, or considered an expected city service - or somewhere in-between.
   After talking with Edds, Sites hopes to have more options for the council by the end of May.
   "They just want to look at a couple of other options on what it would mean to the fee structure, and it will be a council policy decision on which way to go on that," she said.