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City looks to increase permit fees, other user fees

St. Albert city council is scheduled to vote on the increases at its Oct. 17 meeting.
The city is looking to increase its user fees as part of its annual process. FILE/Photo

The city is eyeing an increase to a variety of user fees, a move that would bring in $243,600 in additional operating revenue in 2023. 

The city evaluates its user fees as part of its annual budget process. Fee categories the city is looking to increase include development, building, gas, and plumbing permits; planning as well as subdivision and development appeal fees; cemetery fees; animal licensing fees; assessment and tax enquiry fees, and some transit fees. 

Council passed first reading of updates to its master rates bylaw on Sept. 19, and additional approval of the increases will come before council on Oct. 17. Stanley Chan, the city’s divisional controller of finance and information technology, said the proposed increases are based on an internal review that looks at a variety of factors, including a review of market comparators, direct and indirect costs of delivering the service, and inflation.   

“We have the user pay philosophy,” Chan said, meaning the city wants to ensure users are paying for as much of the service as possible to minimize subsidization. 

“There are times when we won’t increase the fee, because all the data is telling us that … it doesn’t make sense in terms of the people using the service.”

Not up for increases are recreation facility fees. Chan said this is because the city’s parks and recreation department is currently conducting an overall fee review and increases or decreases will be proposed once the review is complete. 

Fee increases

Transit fees are for the most part proposed to remain the same, for example, a single ride will continue to cost $3.25. A pack of 10 bus tickets, however, is rising in price from $24.50 to $25.50. 

Similarly, the city is looking to increase the cost of a local monthly pass from $74.00 to $76.00. 

Monthly AISH passes, however, are proposed to drop in cost, from $63 to $41.80. 

Anne Victoor, the city’s manager of financial services, said transit ridership — which fell significantly during the pandemic — has been “slowly returning.”

“When reviewing the fees, that is an item that we took into consideration,” Victoor said.  

Under council’s fire services bylaw, fees would increase significantly for repeated false fire alarms. While there is no charge for an initial and second false alarm at the same site within 12 months, charges for a third alarm are now more than doubling from $304 to $650, with charges for a fourth and fifth false alarm increasing similarly. 

In an email, city-spokesperson Wade Bendfeld said the rate increase is in line with provincial rates. 

Both rescue, fire suppression, and hazmat response charges would also increase from $500 per unit per hour, to $650 per unit per hour. 

Dog license fees would be increased by a few dollars, for example, the base fee for a new dog license is increasing from $61 to $63. 

Development, building, gas, and plumbing permits charges are also increasing moderately, for example, building permit application fees are increasing from $109 to $206. 

Cemetery fees are also increasing, with most fees for these services such as burial rights and internment increasing by around three per cent. 

A full list of the proposed increases can be found in attachments to the Sept. 19 council agenda under the Master Rates Bylaw item, here.

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