After following previous recommendations from its planning and zoning board to update various building codes, the St. Clair Board of Aldermen decided to buck the trend on Monday night when it opted not to upgrade to 2012 standards as specified by the International Code Council.
The vote was unanimous, including from one alderman who previously said he supported the update.
According to its website, the International Code Council is a member-focused association dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry provide safe, sustainable and affordable construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process.
The codes published by ICC provide minimum safeguards for people at home, at school and in the workplace. The codes are a complete set of comprehensive, coordinated building safety and fire prevention codes.
During their September meeting, city planners unanimously recommended the aldermen adopt the updates. The aldermen voted to table making a decision when they met on Sept. 17 so more information could be gathered.
In a nutshell, the updates specifically deal with building valuation data used to help determine new construction permit fee rates.
“Each year, the ICC sets standards for building costs,” St. Clair Building Inspector Jeremy Crowe told The Missourian. “Those standards are set in regards to current construction costs, including materials and labor. For the most part, these standards are set for all communities to follow, but it’s up to each community to adopt them.”
Crowe said St. Clair currently is using 2009 ICC data.
“Adopting this would just bring us up to date,” he said.
During the Oct. 1 board of aldermen meeting, City Administrator Rick Childers said upgrading to current building valuation data would have a minimal impact on permit fees.
“We’re talking about 2 cents per square foot across the board (for new construction costs),” he said. “Our permit fees still would be lower than in Washington and Union.”
If the ICC update would have been adopted, Childers said the cost of a new construction building permit for a 1,200-square-foot within the city limits would have increased about $24 from $344.35 to $368.63. Crowe gave The Missourian the same information.
“This is not a significant amount,” Crowe said. “It just would help us out and bring us up to date.”
However, the aldermen disagreed.
“My view is not to adopt it,” Ward 1 Alderman Zach Fuchs said during the meeting.
“I agree with Zach,” said Nathan Tate, also a Ward 1 alderman. “My view is to not raise fees. I feel like it’s nickel-and-diming people.”
Ward 2 Aldermen Barb McGlenn and Travis Dierker also agreed.
Dierker, who serves on the city’s planning and zoning commission, voted as a member of that board in favor of recommending the update to the aldermen in September, but then voted against the city adopting it three weeks later.
“Upon further review I had more time and conducted more research and spoke with some citizens,” Dierker told The Missourian about his change in position. “With the city of St. Clair on the brink of some development, I feel it is important that we keep our rates low to help entice builders to build both for commercial and residential. I am here to represent the citizens, and I had many concerns about this particular item.
“I feel like our rates are currently in line with where the city of St. Clair is currently at.”
Crowe said the new construction building permit fee is computed by using a multiplier for the amount. St. Clair’s figure is .0029, which is lower than other municipalities in the county. The multiplier number is multiplied by the number of square feet in the home and then multiplied again by construction costs per square foot. In 2009, those cost estimates were $98.95. For 2012, it increased to $105.93.
The square-foot construction costs are based off of ICC building valuation data, Crowe said.
Tim Hamilton, a member of the city’s planning and zoning board, addressed the aldermen after their vote on Monday. He encouraged them to reconsider their decision.
“The city of St. Clair works hard to operate in the black,” he said. “The building portion is operating in the red. So we’re playing catchup while operating on 2009 figures.
“Jeremy put this together so we will more closely operate in the black. To take a pass on this, we’re setting ourselves up for larger advances when we decide to become current. Do you really believe $30 would stop a building project? It wouldn’t. I encourage you to revisit this.”
None of the city’s other permit fees would be raised under the update, Crowe said.
In previous meetings, the aldermen, on the recommendation from the city planners, approved updates to the International Property Maintenance Code, International Residential Code, International Building Code, International Plumbing Code and the International Mechanical Code.