The minimum actual construction cost that requires a city-issued permit for any Sulphur resident or business owner may soon be moving up. Currently, any repair or remodeling work costing $100 or more requires such a document.
According to Sulphur Fire Chief Danny Dupre, it has been close to 15 years since the minimum requirement was set.
"We are in agreeance that we should change it," he stated to Council members at their recent meeting, "If you did $100 worth of work 15 years ago, then you were probably getting into areas that the code would dictate how that was to be done. Nowadays, if you change the door [that was back then $100], it's going to cost $300 now."
Councilman Mike Koonce suggested that the Council look into increasing the minimum somewhere within the $300-$400 range. Dupre agreed.
"I really think that $300 would be optimal for us. That would be the number I would give you if you just asked me outright," replied the chief, adding that he would not object to "moving the schedule forward as long as we are making sure that we are not conflicting with any state statute, code or enforcement."
Dupre emphasized that any amount higher would be problematic.
"You can really get into some code violations if you get into the $500 [or above] range," he stated.
And the code, Dupre continued, does not just pertain to electrical and plumbing work.
"There is a lot more to it," he said. "The whole purpose of the code is to protect life and property."
"A lot of people do not understand when we say you need to go get a permit," commented Councilwoman Dru Ellender, "It is because of problems that could arise...with the city not looking at it by code."
Dupre also spoke on the permit's current cost, which is, according to him, one of the cheapest in the state.
"At $15 a permit for up to $1,000, I can assure you that we are not making money. We are paying the gas to get over there," he stated, later adding that, "The concept behind [the low fee] was that we were not going to [make money] on the fee schedule. We are going to get the money on the business being in business and generating revenue the city so needs."
Koonce suggested that perhaps the Council look to increase the permits fees to $20-$25 or to whatever would help the department break even.
"I don't know how you do that and still promote business," replied Dupre.
On the web: www.sulphur.org