A public hearing for proposed increases in zoning fees was held as Bethel Council met for the first session of the new year Monday, Jan. 11.
A copy of the proposed increases was distributed during the hearing and zoning administrator Ron Dunn was on hand to answer questions.
“Some of the fee increases seem quite large,” said new council member Janice Ireton. “For a fee to go from $35 to $250 seems large.”
"We have been looking at other villages and what they charge," said Dunn. "We compared our rates to those of Williamsburg, New Richmond, Batavia and Moscow and have adjusted our fees to be more in line with theirs."
According to Mayor James Dick, the process to arrive at the new fees involved the finance committee and the planning commission.
"In 2008 we began looking at increasing fees for zoning," said Dick. "This is the final step to get the fee increases in place."
Village Solicitor George Leicht noted that most people do not dispute the cost for appeals because they are talking about thousands of dollars in building projects and the fee seems minimal.
Dunn also noted that there have been very few appeals heard by the board over the past few years.
There was no public opposition to the fee increases and the mayor closed the public hearing.
Council members will decide at the next meeting if they will write the fee increases as an ordinance and consider the ordinance for a first read or send them back to the committees for further review.
New committee assignments were also discussed by council members. With three new council members now seated, it was suggested that they decide which committees they would like to serve on and let the mayor know before the next meeting.
After a suggestion from council woman Donna Gunn that the personnel committee become an ad hoc committee, council members discussed the relevance of the personnel committee.
It was noted that the committee helps make recommendations when hiring, but Gunn said that it takes away from the effectiveness of the village administrator's role.
"We should leave it as a standing committee," said Councilman Gary Hutchinson. "It should serve as a committee that is behind the administration and not the head of it."
In other business:
New members are needed for the planning commission, according to Dick. Anyone who is interested in serving on the commission should stop by the village office and fill out an application.
Council approved the mayor sending a letter to the state auditor's office asking for a fiscal analysis.
Donna Gunn was elected president pro tem by council members. She will conduct meetings in the mayor's absence.
Councilwoman Ireton thanked the street department for clearing the streets of snow in a timely manner. She also noted that she has an open door policy and asked citizens to speak to her about their concerns.