St. Paul business owners learned this week that effective Monday, a series of municipal fees are up.
Costs for permits, licenses and certificates will increase by 1.5%. The city’s fire certificate of occupancy program, elevator and escalator inspections, and vacant building registration fees will increase even further.
Given labor shortages, inflation, COVID-19, and recent mask and vaccine or test mandates issued by the mayor’s office, some business advocates have called the new fees wrong. timed. Restaurant owners in particular have said business has been down since Jan. 19, when customers at St. Paul establishments that serve alcohol were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result in the previous 72 hours. Minneapolis has issued the same requirements for licensed restaurants.
“St. Paul is even raising fees during this term,” said Leslie Rosedahl, spokesperson for the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, lobbyists representing restaurants, bars and liquor stores. “It is shameful.”
LETTER PUBLISHED THURSDAY
A notification letter released Thursday by the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections explained that the new rates reflect inflation, health care and staffing costs and, in some cases, better represent the true cost of services. inspections and permits.
For example, officials said fees associated with occupancy fire certificates only recoup about 50% of actual expenses. In response, DSI asked City Council in December to approve increasing the cost of these certificates by approximately 12%.
The cost of these certificates goes from $206 for a residential building with one unit to $230, and from $913 to $1,018 for buildings with more than 100 units. For businesses, costs for fire occupancy certificates will increase by $22 for sites under 14,000 square feet, for a total cost of $211. They will increase by $100, for a total cost of $970, for businesses over 118,000 square feet. A provisional fire occupancy certificate will cost $117 instead of $105.
“Any cost increases can be difficult to absorb,” Suzanne Donovan, spokeswoman for the Department of Safety and Inspections, said in an email. “The city continues to work to provide supports for businesses in St. Paul, including extending executive orders to allow businesses to waive requirements for extended outdoor service areas, temporarily disable a business license, etc.
CALL FOR MANDATES AT THE END
Tony Chesak, president of the Licensed Beverage Association, said the new fees added injury to an already difficult situation. Early in the pandemic, city, county and state officials worked to get relief money to restaurants struggling with COVID-19 mandates.
“With the mandates right now, there’s no backup plan in place,” Chesak said Friday, noting that restaurants in some First Ring suburbs have seen business surge as dining establishments in Minneapolis and St. Paul are losing customers. “I now get calls from waiters who work in bars and restaurants saying, ‘Tony, I can’t pay my rent, I can’t pay my bills.'”
He called on the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis to rescind their vaccine or test mandates in light of recent news that the Omicron variant — while still prevalent — appears to be declining nationwide and case-breaks. for fully vaccinated people are usually Benin.
“The numbers are dropping to such an extent that we should review some exit strategies,” Chesak said. “I ask for an end date or a goal, I think it’s a reasonable request, but I get no response.”