Subcommittee to explore fee concerns

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TownSealPROSPECT — The Town Council has formed a subcommittee to look into concerns raised over building fees.  

Council member Mike Scaviola has raised concerns with what he felt may be a sign of unfair treatment of businesses in the town by the building department.

Scaviola has pointed out that there have been departures from the town’s building fee schedule and has raised concerns that some of the businesses in town had to pay less of a fee than other businesses.

During its Aug. 20 meeting, the council received answers to six questions posed by Scaviola earlier this year regarding the fees from William Scarpati, the town’s building inspector. Scarpati did not attend the meeting.

The questions centered on how building fees are established, how many have been waived, and, if they were waived, how many were waived for commercial versus residential buildings.

On three of the questions Scarpati refers to the state statute on building permits, which states that the building official sets the final valuation of the building permit.

No answer was given as to exactly how many times fees have been waived or lowered.

Council members said they knew of 11 fee departures. However, Scaviola was concerned that there could be more that the council has not seen.

Scaviola said the answers Scarpati provided didn’t provide as much information as he would like.

“I don’t see this answers the questions,” Scaviola said pointing to the answers provided by Scarpati, “and I wish he was here so we could discuss it.”

Scaviola said the answers did not address his main concern, which was how many times the building department waived the fees in the past five years and why those fees were waived.

“We established a fee, why didn’t we collect it,” Scaviola asked.

Town Council member Patricia Geary felt there was not enough information provided to truly answer all of the questions.

“My personal opinion is that what has occurred in the Town Hall regarding these permits is nothing that is illegal or out of the scope of the position. However, what bothers me is there is no documentation or written trail of what occurs,” Geary said.

Council Chairman Tom Galvin pointed out there is some paper trail since the council noticed there had been a departure from the standard fees.

Geary said her major concern is there’s no indication of who authorized the waiving of fees.

Council member Theresa Graveline also felt the written answers didn’t fully answer all of the council’s questions.

“To me it seems like there is a threefold concern and it is that there should be some standardization, consistency and documentation,” Graveline said.

The council voted to create a subcommittee to meet with the building inspector, look into the departures from the fee schedule, address the concerns the council has, and make a determination and recommendation to the council on how to proceed.