Tipton said having a village building inspector helps keep the cost down for residents and is still cheaper than utilizing the Warren County Building Department. However, some residents have said the new fees were excessive.
Mayor Richard Verga, who has been mayor since 2008, said the building inspector suggested a fee schedule used by another community and said many things on the fee schedule did not apply to the village. He also acknowledged that the proposal has upset some residents.
At its May 22 meeting, council heard a third and final reading of an ordinance that would enact fees to apply for permits that some felt were excessive. Council approved the final public reading but paused voting to adopt the new fees until Monday, according to records.
In a letter to council, Steve Rivera, a Harveysburg resident and the village’s contracted chief building official, said “Building department fees serve a crucial purpose in ensuring that our community’s growth is well-regulated and complies with local building codes and regulations. These fees are carefully calculated to cover the costs associated with processing permit applications, conducting thorough plan reviews, and performing necessary inspections throughout the construction process.”
Rivera said key factors used to determine building department fees are professional expertise, infrastructure and resources, public safety, sustainable growth, and environmental consideration.
“While we understand that building department fees may represent an additional financial burden for individuals and businesses, it is crucial to acknowledge the long-term benefits they provide for the entire community,” Rivera wrote. “By investing in a well-functioning building department, we collectively ensure the prosperity and safety of our region.”
The village relies on traffic ticket revenue, permit fees, a police levy and a general operating levy to operate as well as other property taxes. However, the police and general operating levies failed in 2022 and are back on the November ballot. An annual payment agreement with the Ohio Renaissance Festival expired last December. While Harveysburg council has the authority to impose a 1% municipal income tax on residents without a vote, council has shied away from that option.
And the owners of the Ohio Renaissance Festival is seeking detachment from the village, who is suing to stop that action in Warren County Common Pleas Court in a trial scheduled for May 2024. That request was made after the village council was looking at imposing an admissions or ticket tax. However, that proposed tax remains pending for future council consideration.
Harveysburg, a Quaker village founded in 1829, was incorporated as a village in 1844. The village operates on a strong council, weak mayor form of government, which has been a source of frustration for residents.
In May, resident Mike Hatfield said the new fees upset a lot of residents that a petition was successfully circulated to place a question on the Nov. 7 ballot to dissolve the village. Hatfield said council members are out of touch with residents and was upset about the $50 fee to apply for a building permit.
“We asked them not to do it (impose a new permit fee schedule),” Hatfield said. “We’ll show them in November. They don’t believe it, but the proof is in the pudding.”
Hatfield collected signatures for the petition to dissolve the village and believes there “will be more than enough votes” to succeed in November.
If voters approve dissolving the village, the land would revert to Massie Twp.