P&Z likely won’t do away with zoning permit fees next year

Published 6:03 am Saturday, February 10, 2018

Big changes for zoning fees in Boyle County will likely wait at least another year.

With the state pension crisis adding pressure and uncertainty to nearly every government budget, it’s probably not the right time to attempt a transformation of how the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission is funded, P&Z Director Steve Hunter said.

Hunter has expressed support for substantially reducing P&Z’s reliance on fees, which are estimated to provide around $55,000 of the agency’s projected $195,050 revenues next fiscal year.

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But eliminating or substantially reducing fees would mean either getting more money from the two governments that fund P&Z — the City of Danville and Boyle County Fiscal Court — or making cuts.

Hunter said he has met with officials from the city and county to discuss all the options available for the next fiscal year, and he came away with a plan to keep things largely the same, mainly because of the pension issue.

“This year, it’s kind of just play it safe, let’s all get through this state legislature stuff, this retirement, figure out what’s going on,” Hunter said.

The city and county officials also expressed support for evening out the funding levels at $70,000 each, Hunter said. This fiscal year, Danville is providing $75,000 to P&Z, while Boyle County is contributing $65,000.

P&Z has a substantial carryover, estimated in the draft budget for next year at around $77,000. That’s around 36 percent of the draft budget’s estimated expenses. P&Z only needs to keep around a 10-percent contingency to make Danville and Boyle County happy, Hunter said.

“We have a window to sort of ride this out and we’re in pretty good shape,” he said.

Down the road, Hunter said it’s possible P&Z could look into restructuring its staff to emulate the way many other P&Z commissions around the state work. Instead of functioning as a standalone agency for employment purposes, many other commissions have their staff employed through either a local city or county, and an interlocal agreement lays out how all the governments that use the P&Z commission pay for their shares.

Hunter said it’s also possible to look into funding P&Z based on a ratio of which government entities use P&Z the most.

A spreadsheet provided by Hunter shows that over an 18-month period from July 2016 to December 2017, P&Z handled 398 activities — applications, approvals, permits, reviews, etc. Two hundred and sixty-nine of those were within Danville City Limits,  129 of them were in Boyle County.

Hunter said while Danville and Boyle County seem OK with an even split in funding right now, it’s possible P&Z could look at basing the percentage of its funding on the percentage of activity by government entity in the future.

P&Z’s Budget Committee expects to review the agency’s preliminary 2018-19 budget one more time before it’s presented to the full P&Z Commission in March. At that time, P&Z will need to formalize its requests for funding to Danville and Boyle County, but the budget can continue to be changed as the pension situation evolves and Frankfort potentially makes changes, Hunter said.