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New Town fees proposed, others increased

The Town of Fort Erie is not meeting its non-tax revenue targets so a raft of municipal fees are proposed to be hiked and a bunch of new ones implemented.

Fee revenue for planning and building services is way under budget, missing the $650,000 target by more than half.

Planning director Rick Brady said a Regional report covering the past five years shows development activity in Niagara has been soft the past few years but development in Fort Erie the past year has fallen dramatically.

“Some of it is a sign of the times,” he said. “Some of it is because of a general lack of confidence in terms of moving forward with some of the developments.”

“I’m optimistic that once some of the larger projects are behind us so that they don’t have the notoriety and with the Garrison Road sewer in place, which will open up a large area for more development activity, that we should be fine,” Brady said.

Most expensive are new fees for “pre-consultation” with staff for site plan, zoning official plan and other amendment applications. These fees will be credited toward the fees that will be paid when the applications are submitted — basically they are down payments.

Pre-consultation fees are also proposed to be applied to severances and boundary adjustments.

Developers will also be required to pay between $1,500 and $5,000 to review regional policy plan amendments depending on their complexity.

The fee for a combined official plan and zoning amendment will be $7,770, an increase of $2,300.

Also new is a $571 “re-circulation” fee for zoning and official plan amendments which would be applied on applications that are changed during the approval process and must be reviewed a second time by stakeholders and regulatory agencies.

Other new fees are being applied on cemetery and fire department services.

If you plan on being late for your funeral, prepare to leave your estate $50 lighter for every hour after 4 p.m. on weekdays or 2 p.m. on Saturdays until you are finally laid to rest — $100 on statutory holidays.

The new “late arrival” fee will be implemented on interments that occur outside normal working hours.

All cemetery charges are being increased, from plot purchase to eternal maintenance. The increases for each service varies but are capped at 13 per cent.

The fire department proposes new fees to respond to hazardous material clean up and mitigation from car accidents. It will cost $410 for the first hour for each vehicle that responds and $205 for each half hour afterward.

The only fee on the Town’s menu that was spared an increase was bingo licences. They will remain at $165 per event.

Councillor Rick Shular pointed out that bingo revenues are down by $32,000 mainly because Uncle Sam’s Bing Hall had cancelled one of its morning sessions.

He said the average take for a bingo group now is $150 per event and a few years ago it was $850.

Many other fees are indexed to inflation and the increases range between 3.2 per cent for fees indexed to the consumer price index (CPI) and 4.3 per cent for fees tied to the construction price statistic (CPS).

Arena rentals are indexed and are proposed to rise by $4 per hour for youth during prime time and $6 for adult prime time rentals. The new rates for these will be $117 for youth and $163 for adults.

Arena operation cost nearly $1.5 million in 2011 offset by $625,000 in rental revenue.

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