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Winfield, Mo. - The Lincoln County Journal recently had an inquiry from residents in Winfield surrounding a recent charge of $38,625 to the Winfield R-IV School District for a building permit on the new Middle School building project.

Winfield-Foley Fire Protection District Chief Aaron Lee explained how the cost is determined.

“We have a code enforcement program which also includes building inspections and building permits” said Lee. “Any new commercial or residential structure that is built within our district, we require code enforcement.”

Lee said that the building permit is based on the cost and the square foot of the project.

“It’s a national standard that we follow.”

“It’s an upwards of $11 million project and with the cost of the project and the square footage, it just comes out to a higher equation.”

Daniel Williams, Superintendent of Winfield R-IV stated the school board had asked for a reduction in fees.

“This is our first new building bond issue in several years,” said Williams. “And it was my first time here as superintendent doing a bond issue and construction projects.”

“And we did reach out to the fire department agency and ask for [the charge] to be reduced and the fire board decided not to do that.”

Lee said the WFFPD did get asked if they could give a break to the school district but ultimately decided that they had to follow all rules and regulations.

“My recommendation to the board is to follow all of our rules and regulations,” he said.

According to Lee, previously the district did not follow certain guidelines to a tee like they’re supposed to.

“The community was very aware of it,” Lee said. “They were up in arms about it. So basically, when I was promoted to chief, I made the decision that we’re going to follow all procedures and guidelines to a tee we’re not going to deviate from the procedure.”

“What we told the school district is we don’t give freebies out,” Lee said. “You know if we do it for one person, everybody else is going to want us to do it.”

Williams commented that the money used to pay the WFFPD was taken out of the bond, but because it was a large amount, there is less money now for the contingency funds they had built into the project.

“I don’t expect that it’s going to have a big impact on the final budget,” Williams said. “But for example, if that price was reduced by, $30,000. Instead of $40,000, we paid $10,000 for those permitting fees. Well, that’s $30,000 that we could have used eventually elsewhere in the project.”

Lee continued to explain that he had heard complaints from the community on how much they are charging for a building permit.

“Well, again, most people just don’t understand what kind of time and effort goes into a project like this, Lee said. “On the fire department side, we’re the safety people. We’re the ones that lookout for anything that could be a safety issue.”

Lee said that as of now, his crew has approximately 20 hours spent just on plan reviews before the school even broke ground.

“I know people were a little shocked with that, but it falls exactly in accordance with when they built the high school.

“We went back and checked what we charged the school district during the high school project, and it was the same equation we use. There was no difference whatsoever other than the high school project costs significantly less.”

“I think most people can understand that my job is to put this fire district in a position where we don’t have people questioning us.”

Lee also said is not up to the department to decide who gets services.

“Why should we get to decide who we get to hand freebies out to and who we don’t,” Lee asked.

“I feel like it should be just uniform across the board.”