Sacramento Fire Department proposes hike for annual fire-prevention fee

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The Sacramento City Council early this month is expected to approve changes to the annual fire-prevention fee for multifamily properties with three or more units.

If approved, the new annual fees will be $40 to $808, depending upon the number of units at the property.

California Apartment Association staff persuaded city fire officials to reduce some of the increases while securing support for improvements to the overall program.

The fee will drop slightly for multifamily properties with three to 30 units that participate in a self-certification program. Larger apartment communities will face increases of up to $382. The proposed changes range from a 7 percent decrease to an increase of 91 percent. On a per-unit basis, the changes range from a decrease of $1 per unit to an increase of $2.03 per unit.

The proposed fee schedule can be viewed here.

Fire officials justified the proposed fee increase as necessary to achieve full cost recovery, including the cost of all staff time associated with scheduling, conducting and documenting the inspections. In addition, the fee had not been increased since 2009. During the past few years, which included a recession, the City Council was reluctant to increase costs for businesses and property owners.

Once an economic recovery began, however, the Fire Department decided to seek a fee increase. Community workshops were held during the past year to get public feedback on the proposed fees. CAA staff participated in the workshops and questioned the increases.

Initially, a consultant for the Sacramento Fire Department proposed raising the annual fee from $558 to $1,270 for larger apartment communities, which would amount to a 121 percent fee hike. However, CAA staff successfully argued for a reduction in the proposed fee increases for apartments with 501 or more units.

During a recent meeting with the fire chief, fire marshal and assistant city manager, CAA staff discussed the fire prevention program and the level of fee necessary to support the program. CAA staff suggested that the Fire Department provide more training of industry personnel on how to prepare for a fire inspection. The training might be held during the annual education conference in September.

CAA staff also suggested that a financial incentive be offered to owners whose apartment communities passed the initial fire inspection. Currently, the annual fee is based upon the assumption that there will be two inspections (an inspection and a reinspection) for each property. Passing the initial inspection might save a property as much as $100 or more.

For more information, contact Jim Lofgren, CAA senior vice president, at jlofgren@caanet.org or (916) 449-6450.

Tagged: Sacramento Valley

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