The Bureau of Development Services collects fees to fund service provisions, including inspections, plan review, permit issuance, land use review, enforcement, and other bureau functions. Fees are evaluated during the annual budget development process to determine whether charges are sufficient to cover the costs of providing services.
This year, BDS brought fee change proposals to Council to increase Land Use Services fees effective April 1, 2019, and changes to the rest of the bureau’s programs effective July 1, 2019. City Council voted to approve the proposed fee changes intended to help the bureau better cover service delivery costs. The adopted fee schedules are now posted on the BDS website. In the process of evaluating the BDS fee change proposal, Council also decided to amend the FY 2019-20 budget, awarding Land Use Services $70,000 in General Fund resources in exchange for holding the fees charged for the Historic Resource Review below cost recovery.
BDS has not brought fee increases to Council in several years. Since 1988, construction-related programs operated by BDS (approximately 90% of bureau functions) have been primarily self-supporting. For the last five years, most BDS fees have remained unchanged, and some have even decreased; however, BDS personnel costs have grown substantially over the last few years, both from staff additions (to address historically high workloads) and from inflation. As a result, some bureau programs are now underfunded. BDS has employed a number of cost-saving measures, but fee increases are necessary in FY 2019-20 in order to maintain BDS’s financial health. BDS will continue to monitor changes in development activity, workload and service delivery, revenues, and expenditures in each program, and take proactive steps to maintain appropriate balance between bureau operations, service delivery, and fiscal stability.
BDS is dependent on fees for 98% of its revenues, and there are restrictions on transferring funds between programs. Fees are therefore evaluated on a program by program basis. Overall, fees are increasing approximately 5% in most cases; however, some fees are increasing by more and others are not changing at all. If you’d like to learn more about the bureau’s finances, you can find budget information and links to the BDS budget and financial planning documents on the BDS website.
Please note that Multnomah County contracts with the City of Portland for inspection and plan review services in the unincorporated areas within the Portland urban services boundary, and fees associated with those services are also proposed to change. The proposed Unincorporated Multnomah County fee schedules are posted online here. The Multnomah County hearing to approve BDS fee changes is scheduled for June 20, 2019.