Broadnax Rolls Out Updated Permit Fee Estimator

Dallas Permit Fee Estimator
Dallas Permit Fee Estimator | Image by City of Dallas

Builders and developers in Dallas have a new tool to help gauge their project’s estimated permitting fees.

Dallas’ Development Services Department (DSD) announced Wednesday that an updated Fee Estimator had been rolled out on its website ahead of the City’s upcoming fee adjustments that go into effect on May 1.

According to DSD, the Fee Estimator is a publicly available tool that allows builders to input their information into an Excel spreadsheet that calculates the general permitting fees associated with their project.

As The Dallas Express previously reported, the Dallas City Council approved an amendment in March to adjust over 200 building permit fees effective May 1. The revised fee schedule, which had not been updated since 2015, is meant to bring Dallas’ development costs in line with those of neighboring cities and help DSD achieve 100% cost recovery. Currently, DSD is running an annual budget deficit of $22 million or about $1.8 million monthly.

Although the fee adjustment will impact all development categories, the Dallas Builders Association (DBA) has been particularly concerned about the increase in multifamily permit fees.

Overall, permit fees for new multifamily projects are set to skyrocket by around 200%, according to a presentation by DSD staff given to council members. DSD Director Andrew Espinoza claimed the increases to new multifamily permits were “substantial” because those costs had “historically been relatively low.”

“It’s important to understand that these increases in building costs are ultimately paid for by the homebuyer or even the person building the multifamily project,” DBA Director of Government Affairs David Lede told The Dallas Express on Monday.

Despite having concerns about the fee increases, the Dallas City Council approved the amendment under the condition that DSD immediately explore ways to cut costs within the department.

“I understand people’s hesitation and concern and what this means to the development community, but we need to sort of change that narrative and say, well, you had a big break for a long time,” said District 12 Council Member Cara Mendelsohn. “On the other hand, there needs to be some restraint on spending because the costs for this department have gone up astronomically, especially in the last three years.”

Lede also agrees that DSD’s costs have gotten out of hand.

“These related operations are funded through an enterprise fund. Not only does that fund pull directly from builder fees, but it also has a history of running a surplus,” he previously said. “Department costs have increased so significantly in such a short time, it raises the question of why.”

Despite DSD creating several new roles within the department to help improve customer service, communication with the public, and permit turnaround times, the department has a ways to go following years of inefficiency and dysfunction under outgoing City Manager T.C. Broadnax, who oversaw periodic permit backlogs and increases in crime, tax collection, and City spending during his seven years at the helm.

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