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BURNET — The higher cost of state-mandated inspections recently prompted the Burnet County Commissioners Court to raise permit fees for on-site sewage systems and buildings in flood-hazard areas.

“The fees were reviewed and adjusted to bring required (inspection) programs to a break-even point,” said Herb Darling, County Environmental Services director. “The costs will be shouldered by the people to whom the (inspection) service is provided — not the taxpayers.”

Soil and site conditions determine what type of sewage system is suited for each location, Darling said.

State law requires the county to inspect aerobic on-site sewage systems three times a year, Darling said.

“Basically, aerobic systems are a mini-municipal sewer plant,” he added. “They rely on pumps and chlorinators. If not properly maintained, they can emit pathogens onto open ground.”

Because of the time needed for an inspection, the permit fee is now $400, Darling said.

Standard sewage systems can be approved for installation according to normal regulations.

Specially designed sewage systems require approval by a registered sanitarian or professional engineer, Darling said.

The fee for both standard and designed on-site sewage systems is now $250.

Previously, the county charged a permit fee of $160 for all systems.

Permit fees for the systems have not gone up since 2001, officials said.

The commissioners also raised the permit fee for Class B buildings, or structures in a special flood-hazard area, Darling said.

Previously, the county charged a fee of $25 per 1,000 feet square feet for a Class B permit, he said. Now the county will charge a flat fee of $400.

“Development in a special flood hazard area requires at least two site inspections by my office,” Darling said.

“The flat fee of $400 more appropriately covers the cost of my time, and the increase more effectively reimburses the county for time devoted to the project.”

Meanwhile, the permit fee for Class A buildings — those structures out of a special flood hazard boundary —  remain at $25, he added.

About 90 percent of building permits issued by the county are for Class A buildings, which do not require inspection, Darling said.

raymond@thepicayune.com