The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to raise county builders' fees, an action aimed at forcing contractors to shoulder more of the county's costs for reviewing construction plans and inspecting new homes.
The move, to take effect Oct. 1, would cover 65 percent of the $10-million-a-year cost of running Fairfax's Department of Environmental Management. The board will hold a public hearing later this year to consider raising the fees to cover 100 percent of the costs.
The fees now cover about 47 percent of the department's costs, according to county officials.
The Fairfax County Federation of Civic Associations and the Fairfax County's Taxpayers Alliance both urged the board to raise the fees to cover the entire operation.
"Everybody is looking for freebies at the taxpayer's expense," said Elbert M. Stever, president of the alliance. "And in this case, a small group of people looking for a profit . . . are benefiting."
The board originally considered raising the fees to cover 75 percent of the costs by July 1. Randolph Williams, of the Northern Virginia Builders Association, opposed that proposal, telling the board yesterday that such an "extensive" increase would be "adverse to our recovery."
Ken Cleaveland, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the Association of Builders and Contractors, argued that if fees are going to be raised to cover 100 percent of the costs, more studies are needed to ensure that builders are being charged only for the expenses they generate.
Cleaveland yesterday suggested a 65 percent compromise. The board accepted his proposal, along with his recommendation for a study, although Supervisor Audrey Moore (D-Annandale) complained that numerous studies already have been done.
Earlier in the day, Supervisor Marie Travesky (R-Springfield) criticized a county staff proposal to purchase, for a maximum of $110,000, an old National Guard base at 11405 Popes Head Rd. for a police academy and firearms training center.
The board deferred action on the proposal.
In a memo to county officials, Fairfax Police Chief Carroll D. Buracker said the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy is in serious need of repairs and the present firearms range is in a poor location. He said the land known as the "Nike Site," which is owned by the federal government, would be "excellent" for a police training center.
Travesky disagreed. "There are houses around there . . . It is Lorton revisited," she said, referring to recent controversy over the Lorton firing range. She also noted that George Mason University is interested in building a laboratory on the site.