Fee increases

The Las Vegas construction industry has been decimated by job losses. Precious few entrepreneurs are willing to expand operations in this uncertain economic climate. Only the very brave are launching new businesses in a city with a bureaucracy long viewed as hostile to start-ups.

Yet today the Las Vegas City Council is poised to pass an ordinance that would jack up building fees by 65 to 70 percent over the next few years. The cost of plan checks, permits and inspections would jump 25 percent immediately.

The city’s personnel costs remain so high that declining permit activity can’t support the 49 remaining employees of the Building and Safety Department. So rather than cut those costs, the city will raise prices, not accountability — a suicidal proposition for businesses hanging on for dear life, but business as usual for government.

Salaries and benefits for the department’s workers "are much higher than any other municipality for the same position," according to the National Association of Industrial Office Properties Southern Nevada Chapter, which submitted remarks to the city to protest the ordinance. "Fee increases are being proposed to offset increases to already bloated (salaries), but not to increase service delivery to the development and business community."

The association wants the city to mandate rapid turnaround times, including next-day building inspections, or privatize the building department’s functions. Fat chance.

If council members are intent on approving this abomination, why don’t they just set up a firing squad in front of City Hall for business owners — and charge their victims for the bullets?

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