SCHENECTADY — The city is expected to waive fees associated with certain home improvement projects this summer in an effort to encourage homeowners to redevelop properties.
The Schenectady City Council is likely to approve a resolution Monday waiving building permit fees for residential improvement projects up to $50,000 to replace or repair roofing, siding, windows, porches and similar exterior fixes.
“We did this last year, and this was primarily the result of meetings with neighborhood associations and residents as to what we as a City Council is doing to encourage residents to redevelop our neighborhoods to improve quality of life,” said Councilman John Mootooveren, who is sponsoring the legislation.
To be eligible for the waiver, a homeowner must pull the permit between July 1 and Sept. 30, and all work and follow-up inspections must be completed within six months, or the applicant will be required to pay full permit fees.
The opportunity is available for existing owner-occupied homes, or rental properties of up to four units. Building permits typically cost $50 or $100, plus an additional percentage based on the total value of the improvement project.
“We look at what’s happening downtown, but we don’t want to turn our back on homeowners,” Mootooveren said. “These couple hundred dollars can go a long way for some residents.”
The council undertook a similar initiative last year, but limited it to projects up to $25,000. In addition, the window to pull a permit was only six weeks. The 2017 resolution doubles the maximum amount for a project, and the time residents can take advantage of the program.
In 2016, 149 permits were pulled between June 15 and Aug. 1 as part of the initiative, Mootooveren said. That resulted in an overall budget impact of $17,000, including lost revenue from building permits, staffing costs and more, he said.
Given the updates to the legislation, Mootooveren said he’s expecting the budget impact to roughly double. However, there is enough cushion in the city budget to absorb that amount, he said, a sentiment echoed by Finance Commissioner Anthony Ferrari at last week’s committee meeting.
Mootooveren himself owns four properties in the city, according to property records, and recently bought a fifth, according to a posting in the Times Union. However, he will not take advantage of the legislation should he make any upgrades to his properties, he said.
A section of the city code states that no municipal officer or employee may participate in any decision on a matter when it could result in a direct or indirect financial or material benefit for themselves.
Mootooveren said he won’t recuse himself, nor does he believe he needs to. All City Council members have houses, he said, so it isn’t practical or necessary for everyone to recuse themselves.
“I made it clear last year, I made it clear this year that I won’t be pulling any permits through this program. If I have to pull a permit, I will pay my fees,” he said. “This is for our homeowners, not for John Mootooveren.”