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.