Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

TOP STORY >>Austin adds construction fees

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

The Austin City Council voted Monday night to begin charging builders a utility fee/consumption fee when building permits are purchased. The fee should not be considered an impact fee, according to Mayor Bernie Chamberlain. The fee amount will be decided at a special meeting of the city council.

“I talked to numerous builders and explained to them the reason for the new fee,” Chamberlain said. “They had no problem with the fees.” The fee will go to fund sewer, street and water projects. The breakdown will be 80 percent for sewer, and 10 percent apiece for street and water. The sewer funds will be used to pay for a new water line and possibly to help fund the upgrade, or building, of a new sewer pond.

The new water line will cost the city close to $25,000. The sewer pond would cost the city between $50,000-$150,000, de-pending on whether it is upgraded or a new one built. James Moore of James Moore Construction, the only builder in attendance at the council meeting, said the city was about a “year and a half behind” in charging for fees.

“If Austin had been charging fees this time last year, the city would already have had enough money in the bank to cover the cost of these expenses,” Moore said. With work in progress within six housing subdivisions, Austin’s population will see a rise as well.

The 2000 Census showed Austin’s population at 605. Mayor Chamberlain told The Leader that the current population was at least 1,000 residents. “We’ve got 500 something people on the water system,” Chamberlain said. “If you figure at least two people per household, we easily have 1,000 people.” Austin has outnumbered Cabot in the number of building permits issued in the past six months, with a total of 166 permits worth over $3.5 million. Austin issued 30 housing permits in June, 24 for July and 25 for August to date, most of which issued for new homes in Quapaw, Weathering Heights and Shadow Creek subdivisions.

The new Orchard Estates, on Peach St. off Hwy. 321, will hold 140 homes. James Moore Construction has three homes already in Orchard Estates, with a square footage of 1,000 to 1,500 feet. Eighteen duplex buildings will be at the entrance of Orchard Estates, with a total of 36 units. Shadow Creek subdivision will have 30 homes available.

Quapaw subdivision has 16 lots remaining available to build on, with 11 permits issued the last two months. Housing permits issued for June and July include: 30 permits for Weathering Heights subdivision issued to C&B Homes, Larry Weathers, Thompson Builders, Jason Walker Construction, J&R Custom Homes, Cody Ward Construction, Ed Weeks, and Weathers, Inc.
11 permits for Quapaw subdivision issued to D&F Con-struction, Cody Ward Construction, and Keith Moore Construction.
11 permits for Shadow Creek subdivision issued to H&B Investments, Craig Custom Construction, Cossey Construction, Larry Weathers, and Scott Moix.

Three permits for Carriage Court II subdivision issued to Weathers, Inc. and RKB Construction.