Prescott City Council OKs new $150 sober living home fee, bringing total to $635

PRESCOTT – As many as 100 structured sober living homes in Prescott will face a total of $635 in application and license fees, beginning Jan. 1.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, Dec. 13, the Prescott City Council approved a $150 application fee, which will become effective at the first of the new year, along with the implementation of the city’s new business license.

The new application fee and $35 business-license fee will be in addition to the $450 that the City Council approved this past spring for health/safety inspections of the group rehab homes.

The health/safety inspection fees have been in effect since July, said Prescott Planning Manager George Worley, and about 15 homes in Prescott have already gone through the inspection process.

But, noting that the city estimates that about 100 of the homes exist in Prescott, Worley said as many as 85 still need to go through the inspection process.

“We prefer they don’t wait (until the new business license goes into effect Jan. 1),” Worley said Wednesday, Dec. 14. He added that the city’s Community Development Department has sent out several rounds of letters urging the group homes to begin the inspection process as soon as possible.

If they do opt to wait until Jan. 1, Worley said the homes could face a delay in getting their inspections done because of the flood of applications expected at the time.

The new fees are the result of a number of actions the city has taken in recent months. The resolution for the new $150 application fee states that the city adopted new regulations in October for the operation of structured sober living homes, which called for an application fee.

The resolution adds that the license application fee “is based on the estimated cost to review a structured sober living homes application.”

Approval of the sober living home ordinance came about six months after the council’s May adoption of new building-related fees, which went into effect July 1. As a part of the series of fee increases for building, fire, planning, public works, and water resources, the council approved the inspection fees for group homes.

A city memo this week stated that the $150 application fee would be a one-time cost for structured sober living homes, bringing the first-year total to $635. In subsequent years, the annual fees would total $485.

Worley explained that inspection fee covers the cost of a city building official to conduct a one-hour inspection of the group homes, along with a half-hour inspection by the fire marshal, and a half-hour inspection by the city’s code-enforcement officer.

Although the new $150 license application fee was on the City Council’s consent agenda (a list of typically non-controversial items that are approved with a single vote), Councilwoman Billie Orr asked to have the item discussed and voted upon individually.

“I have some concerns whether or not this is enough,” Orr said of the proposed fee. “It just seems like $400 for a health/safety inspection – is that enough?”

Budget and Finance Director Mark Woodfill pointed out that the fees were determined after conferring with the city code-enforcement and legal departments. He added that the health/safety inspection fee had already been decided by the council. “The only fee we’re looking at today is the $150 (fee for structured sober living home license application fee).”

Councilman Jim Lamerson asked whether the homes would be subject to annual inspections “to ensure they’re keeping up with life/safety (measures) necessary to run places of business that are delivering health care in the city?”

City Manager Michael Lamar responded that the inspections would be required annually, and the council voted 7-0 to approve the $150 fee.