It was a split vote Tuesday night from La Crosse city leaders on whether to get rid of permits and fees for certain improvement projects.
In a 10 to 6 vote, the Committee of the Whole voted to remove the building permit and $31 fee for replacing siding, and windows. However, the city will keep permits and fees for replacing roofing.
La Crosse mayor Tim Kabat argued for getting rid of the permits and fees saying it will give inspectors more time for code enforcement and rental inspections. He said the current system is too time consuming. "The result is in many cases our inspectors than have to make multiple visits to those properties to do the pre-inspections, after the work is done, again that is taking away very limited staff resources," said Kabat.
But at least one local contractor doesn't agree with the idea. "To totally get rid of permits in general, I think, it puts homeowners at risk. The reason we set those in place to begin with was for storm chasers, fly-by-night companies," said Alex Koonce from Ledegar Roofing.
The proposal will now go to the full city council on Thursday for a vote.
If you live in La Crosse, the price to fix up your home may be going down. The city is looking to remove the $31 fee and permit to replace windows, siding and doors.
The La Crosse Committee of the Whole voted 7-2 last week in favor of removing the fee and permit. Mayor Tim Kabat wants to see the permit removed to free up time for inspectors so they can enforce other city ordinances, but the idea is getting mixed reviews.
Nicholas Mier is the owner of Moore and Moore Construction in La Crosse and he likes the idea of removing the permit and fee.
"It's just ridiculous. You can't even replace a door in a person's house without the city yammering at you for a permit," Mier said.
Kabat said a city inspector's time could be used in better ways.
"In many cases our inspectors then have to make multiple visits to those properties to do the preinspections, after the work is done, again that is taking away very limited staff resources," Kabat said.
The mayor also says the $31 fee is causing people to not make upgrades to their homes.
"We need to be removing those barriers and getting rid of those disincentives because that's one of our biggest, if not our biggest, challenge in the city is the number of properties that we have in La Crosse that have a lower value," Kabat said.
Fran Formanek is one of two council members that disagree with the idea. Formanek said the fee and permits were put in place to make sure the company doing the work is certified.
"The benefit is that the individual homeowners and commercial businesses know that they have somebody that has expertise in putting the product on correctly," Formanek said.
And one local roofing company agrees.
"To totally get rid of permits in general I think it puts home owners at risk. the reason we set those in place to begin with was for storm chasers, fly-by-night companies," Alex Koonce, residential department manager at Ledegar Roofing, said.
Others like Mier believe the permits are just an unnecessary cost.
"All the fees and stuff that they charge you for any other building permit is just plenty," Mier said.
Along with the current $31 fee there is a $20 filing fee through the City Assessor's Office. If the permit and fee are dropped that fee would also be removed.
The City Council will take up removing the fees and permits at this week's meetings.