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City to refund $195,000 in permit fee overcharges

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The City of Sulphur Springs is mailing refunds to 618 people who applied for permits from the city over the past four years, Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell said Thursday morning. During that period 2,363 building permits were issued and the overcharge involved about 25 percent of the permits, amounting to about $195,000.

The city's Department of Community Development upgraded its permitting process to the “Iworq” system in the fall of 2012 which provided many positive changes, according to Maxwell.

“Unfortunately, its implementation was flawed,” he said. “The problems occurred at the time the Community Development Department was reorganized with a new department head and a new chief building official. As new staff transitioned and as the new program was implemented, some of the permit fees were incorrectly entered. Utilizing those incorrectly entered permit fee amounts, approximately one in four permits issued during the past four years contained overcharges.”

Since the overcharges were discovered about two months ago, the city has conducted a manual audit of every permit since the new computer software was implemented, and steps were taken to correct the errors.

“Beginning today, the City of Sulphur Springs is issuing refund checks to each person who was overcharged for building permits they received from the city,” Maxwell said. “The city has also taken effective action to ensure that this kind of problem does not occur again in the future. We, as a city, strive to maintain an environment that fosters responsible and progressive economic growth. That will not change. We strive to be a partner to those persons willing to invest in the growth and progress of Sulphur Springs. As we move forward, we will continue to promote that partnership, to build on our successes and to create a strong and inviting city.”

The city manager said the refund checks have been processed and were going into the mail Thursday morning.

Holiday: No paper published on Monday

There will be no newspaper published on Monday, Dec. 26, as employees of Echo Publishing and the News-Telegram observe their Christmas holiday.

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2016 in Review: Top stories from the first 6 months

Editor’s Note: Following is the first part of a two-part story on the major local stories of 2016. The second installment will be in next weekend’s edition.

Jan. 6 — City Council approved Tesla charging station and the paving of a new parking lot at the corner of Davis and Main streets.

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Politics: Fourth Time’s A Charm?

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After three previous tries to open up sales of raw milk, legislators feel this year may bring success

If State Rep. Dan Flynn is right, the fourth time might be the charm for raw milk producers in Texas. Flynn recently pre-filed House Bill 57 that would allow producers to sell their products off-premises. Currently, consumers can only buy raw milk at the farm where it’s produced or from the producer at a designated pick-up point.

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100 pets at SS Animal Shelter adopted at off-site events in 2016; 7 adult dogs still need forever homes

Sulphur Springs Animal Shelter has done a booming business this year. More than 100 four-legged pets have found forever homes this year thanks to off-site adoption events alone, and that’s not counting the animals adopted at the shelter.

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