The City Council agreed to raise fees to help bring in new revenues, an estimated $100,000 annually.
The city could have reaped in more than $4 million in new revenues had it agreed to stop subsidizing all the costs to provide user-fee related services.
"It would have been a sticker shock if we were going to implement the costs," said Edward Starr, the city manager.
And he was concerned that raising fees drastically would chase off development.
In 2011, a study from a consultant found that city fees for everything from dog licenses to building permits provide only half the cost to provide the services. The city spends $8.9 million annually to offer a host of services but only recovers $4.1 million, or 46 percent, according to the study conducted by Wohlford Consulting.
Montclair officials brought in Wohlford in 2007 to compile the data and conduct the report. The report took a comprehensive look at what the city was charging for its services: where it could possibility raise fees and what would be an appropriate increase.
If the city wanted to recoup all of the costs it would have to collect an additional $4.8 million annually, essentially the city would have to raise all of its fees, Starr said.
"We realized it wasn't practical or plausible to raise the costs for all services," he said.
The council directed staff to look at what other cities were charging for their services in order to help determine its own fees, Starr said.
After a year of conducting its own report, staff combined their findings with Wohlford's to come up with a "hybrid approach" to the increases, he said.
The department with the greatest fee adjustment was in building since the city had not adjusted the fees in years.
Officials will increase the administrative fee from $23.50 to $39 to help cover the cost of staff services. Council agreed to also increase various building inspection, mechanical, electrical and plumbing fees. At minimum, the increase will result in $100,000 in new revenue to the city, he said. The fiscal impact will be depend on the continued improvement in the development sector.
But Councilman Leonard Paulitz shared his reservations about not increasing more fees, saying that if the city is forced to raise them, residents will be in "sticker shock."
"Taxpayers should take the burden of some costs," he said.
Starr said the city will now review and assess fees on an annual basis.
Council members Bill Ruh and John Dutrey backed the proposed increases and praised staff for their work.
"They are reasonable and I commend you for this," Dutrey said.