Marquette City Commission passes budget, increases city permit costs

The Marquette City Commission passed the city’s 2015 fiscal year budget at its meeting Monday night, which included an amendment with a 5% increase to site plan reviews and other permits.

During a public hearing before the vote, residents voiced their concerns over the steep increases to zoning fees, and said it would hurt construction and economic growth.

“The site plan review fee is 100% affects development, future economic development,” Marquette resident Jesse Schramm said.  “People already pay large tax bills in the city.  Citizens are supposed to be your customers.  Raising fees is going to push people elsewhere, looking at the (Marquette) township, whether your like it or not is competition for city business.”

“I would say Marquette is an expensive place to do business, create development and to maintain development, sustain development,” Marquette resident Lynn Swadley said.  “So I simply encourage you to incrementally increase your costs (for the permits).  Smaller proportions make it much for acceptable for everybody.”

Mayor Bob Niemi said the increase was needed because the city reduced its budget by 10 percent, and looked at the “expense” it was for employees to complete the paperwork for permits.

“Zoning is kind of a labor intensive,” Niemi said.  “If you want to cut there, you have to cut a person which means we’ll cut our services to the citizens.  And one of the priorities of the budget is to maintain services as well as we can, so one of the ways to accomplish that was to increase the fees.”

“In a sense, you could look at in the past, the general fund has been subsidizing those plan reviews.  It’s not to say there isn’t a public good in plan review, but perhaps those who benefit from it directly out to pay the full cost.”

To balance the budget with the new permit increase increase, money will be taken from the statutory revenue sharing.

The city’s budget is about $50 million dollars, and will go into effect October 1.