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Travis County studying platting fees

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Travis County Commissioners have authorized a two-week staff investigation into platting fees, because some fees seem inconsistent with the work provided. The matter began when county employees told Mike McMinn, President of the McMinn Land Surveying Company, that his short form platting fees would be nearly $5,000 more than anticipated. He then requested an alternative filing fee. McMinn had thought that a short form plat for dividing up a family lot into seven smaller lots would run around $800-$900. Instead, it was projected to be $6,229.

 

McMinn pointed out the cost was more than the county would charge for a long form plat, although a long form plat is more work for the county than a short form plat. Long form platting involves costs and fees associated with right of way and roads that need to be built, whereas short form platting is used when there are existing roads.

 

McMinn had seven lots in Northwest Travis County and was told he would have to pay $852 per lot in addition to a septic review fee and a $150 initial fee. McMinn wanted a reduction in fees saying he had initially told his client, the Martinez family, to expect “something along the order of one thousand dollars in subdivision review fees from the county.” McMinn said if the subdivision were a long form platting it would coast $877. He told Commissioners he thought the sum of $2,921 more appropriately reflected the county’s costs on evaluating the subdivision.

 

In 2004, the County hired Deloitte and Touche to evaluate their fee structure. “We’re looking at our fees on average, and at a certain point it is excessive for one person, like perhaps in this instance,” said Anna Bowlin of the Transportation and Natural Resources Department. She said when the fees were based on acreage then sometimes single, large lots were being assessed unreasonable fees. Bowlin said the county tried to get away from that because the issues determining the county’s cost were predominately the number of lots not the acreage. McMinn’s proposal factored in the standard $850 lot fee for the first three lots, charged $25 for each additional lot and waived the septic review fee.

 

Pct. 1 Commissioner Ron Davis did not want the county to begin assigning “ad hoc” fees for platting and questioned whether it would be appropriate or sensible for the commissioners to begin ignoring the TNR guidelines in favor of issuing alternative fees. Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt made a motion that county staff look into the possibility of a graduated fee schedule and report back to commissioners in two weeks.

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