City proposes fee increase for businesses

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Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The cost of doing business in the Circle City could go up.

Hotels, contractors and cab drivers are among those who could pay higher fees come August and again in January. The city's department of Code Enforcement proposes increasing roughly 120 permit and license fees to cover its cost of doing business.

Rick Powers, director of code enforcement said, "Some licenses never existed and some haven't been reviewed since circa 1972."

Code Enforcement is a relatively new department, charged with everything from enforcing the high weeds ordinance and doing building inspections to licensing horse-drawn carriages and strip clubs.

"So it's a broad spectrum of impact areas and duties we've taken on and as a department we need to fund them," Powers said.

He said the higher fees are expected to bring in an extra $2 million a year and that provides more resources to crack down on nuisance properties like the Indy East Motel, which was finally shut down last year.

Still, Joseph, a taxi driver, said he doesn't like seeing cab licenses go from $100 to $208 a year.

"On a slow day, we're lucky to go home with $60 or $50 and we have to pay the cab company and buy gas," he said.

Gary Vickery, a contractor who does a lot of remodeling on the city's north side, said the higher building fees will likely be passed on to clients, but he also said stronger code enforcement helps everyone in the long run.

"The good thing about it is, it protects the homeowner. Just a few years ago, they were doing like 20 percent of the inspections, now they're up to 95 percent," Vickery said.

Powers said a few fees, like those for sidewalk cafes, would be eliminated or reduced. But construction fees in particular would go up an average of 20 percent.

The new fee schedule goes before the City-County Council Monday evening. It will then be sent to a council committee before a final vote next month.

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