Mount Carmel eliminates all construction building permit fees

Jeff Bobo • Jun 8, 2020 at 6:00 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 4-2 with one abstention at its May 28 meeting to eliminate building permit fees for all construction and demolition, which was proposed by Mayor Chris Jones to help encourage development.

Among those opposed were Vice Mayor Jennifer Williams, who said there’s no proof that elimination of those fees will increase construction. Williams also noted that the fee covers the cost of the building inspector conducting a review of the new construction.

City Manager Mike Housewright noted the city receives $5,000 in revenue from the building permit fees.

“The reason you have fees is to fund the building inspector because if you don’t, you use property tax, sales tax, whatever, to fund that position,” he said. “(Otherwise) you’re using tax money from people who aren’t benefiting, or using that service to pay for the delivery of that service. Your building permit fees, theoretically, should be in line with the cost of delivery of that service. That way the people using that service are the ones funding the delivery of that service.”

Originally Jones wanted to eliminate construction fees only, but Alderman Steven McLain made a motion to eliminate demolition fees as well.

“I’d rather see people tearing junk down as standing there,” McLain said.

Jones, McLain, Jim Gilliam and Carl Wolfe voted yes. Williams and Wanda Davidson voted no. Pat Stillwell abstained.

Although the fees are now waived, you still have to obtain building permits, and the work still must pass inspection.

State highway contract debated

The BMA unanimously approved the 2020-21 state highway contract in which the Tennessee Department of Transportation reimburses the town to mow along Highway 11-W, as well as pick up litter, spread salt, plow and perform other light maintenance.

There was a lengthy debate, however, when some aldermen questioned whether the contract should be renewed.

Gilliam said he believes mowing 11-W is dangerous and the town needs to assign a patrol car to reduce the speed of traffic when mowing along 11-W takes place. 

McLain added, “On a small lawn mower your life’s in jeopardy. Make one mistake driving and you kill an employee.”

He added, “You’d be better off not to get the money and just mow what you want.”

Jones said grass on 11-W will be waist high before the state gets around to mowing it.

“We're going to mow it one way or the other and we’re getting some money back for mowing,” Jones said. “If we are going to continue maintaining 11-W (it’s got to be mowed) and we go out here and mow it, if we don’t pass this we don’t get nothing from the state.”

Housewright added, “If we do not approve this contract, the state will be mowing it. I don’t know that we can mow it if we don’t approve it because it’s a state highway. They compensate us to do so. We get calls daily — I’m sure everybody is aware of the dip. That is TDOT maintenance. If they’re maintaining grass on the side of the road, that’s what we’ll be seeing. … They will not maintain that stretch of road to the same degree that we will. It’s our community, and it would reflect on the town.”

Gilliam asked if Housewright can have a patrol car on 11-W when mowing takes place.

Housewright responded, “I can do my best. We have a small police department. I agree that there’s a need (for police presence) there. And I think that it’s a good idea.”

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