Time running out for free storm-related permits

The city’s Community Development Department, which has saved Biloxi homeowners anywhere from $25 to $250 by waiving fees for storm-related building permits, will resume charging for building permits after the first of the year.

Mayor A.J. Holloway, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, had ordered that fees be abolished for any city-issued permits for residential repairs. Businesses, however, were required to pay permit fees.

“This was something that helped homeowners at a time when they already had a lot to deal with,” Holloway said. “We’ll continue waiving the fees until the end of this year to give homeowners a little more time to get their permits.”

In all, the Community Development Department in the three-month period from September to November issued a total of nearly 3,000 residential and commercial permits, with more than half of those related to storm repairs.

In fact, the value of storm-related permits — residential and commercial — accounted for $45.4 million of the $65.8 total valuation of all permits issued in the three months after the storm. The city issues permits for such work as plumbing, mechanical and electrical permits, as well as certificates of occupancy, which certify that a structure is suitable for use.

Permits for work not considered storm-related repairs – including permits for 23 new homes – required fees to be paid, based on the cost of the construction. The department collected more than $165,000 in fees during the three months from September to November.

A rundown on the permits issued by the city in the three months after the Aug. 29 storm:

Commercial building permits: 56 permits, with a total value of $17.5 million

Residential building permits: 59 issued, value of $2.9 million

Commercial storm permits: 180 issued, value of $28.3 million

Residential storm permits: 1,425 issued, totaling $17.1 million ($35,000 in fees waived)