Savannah planning fine, fee increases |


Savannah planning fine, fee increases |

Downtown Savannah visitors will have at least five reasons to keep better track of the time left on their parking meter next year. Officials are proposing to increase overtime fines by $5 to $20, along with fine increases for other parking violations, in their 2014 budget.

Builders, tour companies and athletes will also pay more. Fee increases are planned for cemetery tours and burials, development services, cultural affairs and athletic programs.

The increases are an attempt to cover costs as much as possible, said city spokesman Bret Bell.

“Sometimes they do, most of the time they don’t,” Bell said.

Sean Brandon, Savannah’s management services bureau chief, said the fines for parking violations were last increased about five years ago. Part of the increase is to further spread the cost difference between parking in a garage all day for $12 and paying an overtime ticket for $15, which some visitors voluntarily do, Brandon said.

“That is behavior we would like to discourage,” he said.

Julie McLean, Savannah city engineer and director of development services, said the operating costs for her department are more than what the city collects.

The department costs about $4.3 million to operate, while about $2.1 million in fees are collected.

The increased building inspection and permitting fees are expected to bring in about $295,000 in additional revenue, most of which, about $120,000, would come from a new phased permitting fee that would only impact major projects that occur once or twice a year, McLean said.

The inspection fee increases only apply to minimum payments, which most developers already exceed anyway, she said.

The cost of after-hour, walking and vehicle tours of cemeteries will also increase under the plan, as would burials. Athletic fees for non-city residents would go up as well.

In addition, rates for water and sewer, as well as sanitation, are being increased. The water and sewer consumption increase amounts to about $1.50 per resident, but is based on average usage. Some residents will pay more, while more conservative consumers will pay less.

The sanitation rate is also set to increase by $1.50 for residents.

Water and sewer, as well as sanitation, rate increases are planned for the next five years in order to pay for infrastructure improvements and a $17 million expansion of the city’s landfill, acting Assistant City Manager Dick Evans said during last week’s budget retreat.

“This is all part of a coordinated plan,” Evans said. “No single year is going to be a big surprise.”

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