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Sun, Dec. 15

Jerome considers new, increased fees
Fire department may charge for out of town calls

The Jerome Town Council is considering increasing building-inspection and grading-permit fees. In addition, the council has been asked by the Jerome Fire Department to consider approving charges for emergency calls outside the town limits and possibly for in-town calls for non-residents.

During its regular meeting Tuesday night, the council discussed proposed fees for building inspections and for grading permits.

The town currently pays its building inspector $20 per hour on contract.

Mayor Jane Moore said if the town charges what some other towns charge for building inspections, she thinks some people, for some projects, simply won't apply for the required permits.

"I was shocked at the building inspection fees in other towns," Moore said.

A proposed valuation and fee schedule was presented to the council. Most of the members agreed with the schedule, but councilman John Scarcella said he would like to see locals get a break on the fees for remodeling and small projects.

That is a point most other members have made or agreed on during discussion of the topic in an earlier meeting. Members agree that a homeowner who simply wants to put up a new front door or paint a room should not have to pay a high fee.

Under the new valuation and fee schedule, projects up to $500 would be charged a $30 fee. Projects up to $2,000 would be charged the $30 plus $2.75 for each additional $100 of value.

For a project between $100,000 and $500,000 the building permit would be $887.25 for the first $100,000 plus $5 for each additional $1,000.

Required building inspections are included in the permit fees. For other inspections, including those outside of normal business hours, the fee would be $50 per hour with a minimum charge for two hours.

Grading permit fees are based on the total cubic yards. 50 cubic yards or less require a $10 fee. Up to 100 cubic yards will be $15, and up to 1,000 yards will be $15 for the first 100 yards plus $7 for each additional cubic yard. Grading plan review fees will cost 50 percent of the grading permit fees.

In another matter, Fire Chief Terry Molloy asked the council to begin consideration of a fee structure for providing fire or emergency medical service outside the town limits or possibly even inside town limits to non-residents.

Molloy said the department is frequently called to provide service along Arizona 89A for accidents, as well as injured hikers or hang gliders.

"This is something a lot of other towns are doing," Molloy said. He said Jerome has been providing this emergency service out of town for 30 years without being reimbursed.

"Citizens of the town have been footing the bill for that," he said. "It's time the people we service outside the town limits start paying for the service they get."

Molloy said other emergency service agencies bill the insurance companies of the people they service. He said about 90 percent of those bills are paid by the insurance carriers.

On average, one call outside of town would bring in about $700 if the department is allowed to charge. Currently, the department answers one or two such calls each month. Molloy said the additional fees would bring in between $10,000 and $16,000 each year to the department. The money would be used to pay for necessary equipment, supplies and training.

Town attorney David Gordon said this is a reasonable bill that insurance companies will look at and generally pay.

No specific agency is responsible for covering accidents or emergencies along Arizona 89A outside of incorporated areas. "The state just expects someone to show up," Molloy said. "But you can't bill the state. You can bill the insurance company."

The council approved a motion to move forward with Molloy's request.

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