MARTINDALE, Texas (KXAN) — As rebuilding continues in flood-ravaged cities, families are depending on any help they can get. But cities have to make tough decisions about what help they can give.
In San Marcos, the city is helping out by waiving residential building permit fees. But down the street in Martindale, city council voted against that.Mayor Randy Bunker says it is a cost that council isn’t sure they can absorb.
“My recommendation to council at the time was to negate permit fees totally, but council choose at this time to defer them, to see if FEMA will cover them for most everybody, so that they can collect the fees themselves,” said Bunker. “We don’t have a building inspector for the city itself, we have to contract out for that.”
Bunker wanted to use an emergency fund to cover permit fees for homeowners.
But he says if FEMA doesn’t help out, the city will review on a case-by-case basis.
Yara Perez has spent 47 of the last 48 days trying to turn her mother’s house back into a home. She says they have come a long way with volunteer help, but that a waived permit fee would have meant a lot.
“Anything helps right now, especially because we’ve already run out of the FEMA money, with all the materials we have bought, so right now we are at a standstill point,” said Perez. “The look on her face. The look on her face and the sadness seeing that she’s practically homeless. She’s practically homeless, and that’s what keeps me going.”
Perez says she’s grateful for the help they have received.
“It was a blessing.”
Bunker says permit fees are fairly expensive in Martindale, in some cases, three times what someone would pay for the same permit in San Marcos. He says council plans to review those costs.
The city is not charging for demolition fees, just construction.