A changing real estate market is affecting revenues collected by the Columbia County Planning and Zoning Department, according to first-quarter financial figures.
"What we have been seeing lately is a lot of the housing starts are some of the more affordable-type housing," Planning and Zoning Director Kendal Jones said.
Although the affordable homes are being built in growing numbers, fees collected from their building and inspection permits are down about $7,000 over the first quarter of 1997.
From January through March, the county and the cities of Harlem and Grovetown issued 4,392 building permits generating $455,653 in revenue.
The county charges builders for permits based on the size of buildings.
"If you go build a 10,000-square-foot, $1.5 million home in West Lake, your permit is going to be way more than if you build a $90,000 house in Connemara," Mrs. Jones said.
In 1997, 4,066 permits generated $462,911 during the same period.
County commissioners are not concerned about the drop in revenues.
"These are winter months, and we have had a considerable amount of rain," Commissioner Diane Ford said. "So I'm not concerned about the revenues now."
While permit revenue may have dropped, overall construction figures are up. During the first three months of the year, $32,464,157 in projects were being built -- $5 million more than during the first quarter of 1997.
Home sales in Columbia County increased during the first few months of 1998. From December through February, 321 homes were sold in Columbia County, compared with 261 during the same period last year. The value of homes sold the past three months is $41,734,547, compared with $33,752,125 during the same period of 1997 -- a difference of $7,982,422.
Building figuresStatistics for January to March 1997 followed by statistics for January to March 1998:Building permits:
Other (electrical andmechanical permits, final plats,zoning applications):
Total cost of construction:$27,644,122, $32,464,157
Source: Columbia County Planning and Zoning Department