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Council learns of more than $11,000 in uncollected fees

Crosslake City Clerk Char Nelson told the city council Monday, Nov. 18, that there is more than $11,000 in planning and zoning fees, some from two years ago, still owed to the city.

In all, 42 property owners have outstanding balances ranging from $13.50 to $1,743.75. Nelson said she only looked back in records to 2011, so there could be more outstanding balances further back in the books.

Nelson informed the council in a memo that when a property owner applies for a subdivision, variance, conditional use permit or other permit, that person signs a form stating he or she will reimburse the city for professional costs related to reviewing the proposal. Those costs include legal fees, surveying and engineering costs.

“It appears to me that many applicants have not received a bill for the charges and/or have not paid for the charges,” Nelson said in the memo. It’s the planning and zoning department’s responsibility to invoice and collect the fees, she said.

Crosslake recently terminated its two planning and zoning employees and contracted services from Crow Wing County.

Nelson said some of the properties that still owe money have probably changed hands.

The council discussed dropping some of the charges, but felt that if the city were to drop charges, those who have already paid should be refunded.

The council asked Chris Pence, Crow Wing County Land Services supervisor, who is currently overseeing Crosslake’s planning and zoning, how the county manages its permit costs.

Pence said the county charges one flat fee for all services, instead of charging a permitting fee plus the cost of any professional services that are required.

The council decided it will send out invoices on the unpaid bills along with a letter of apology for the mistake in not getting the bills out in a timely manner.

The council also directed staff to look into a new flat-fee schedule for the planning and zoning department and bring it back to the council.