PTC looks into $25 tree removal fee

The Peachtree City Council is considering adding a $25 fee for all tree removal permits.

Currently there is no charge for the permit, though each one requires an on-site visit by a city employee to evaluate the request, City Planner David Rast told council last week.

While the city has no power to deny a resident from cutting down a tree, staff typically consults with homeowners if certain trees proposed for removal are healthy and aren’t close enough to threaten a home or other structure, Rast said.

“We try to talk with them and convince them to preserve those trees,” Rast said.

A tree removal permit is required when the tree is three inches or larger in diameter at a point measured 4.5 feet above the ground, Rast noted.

From 2005-2008 the city averaged more than 1,000 such permits a year. The number dipped slightly to 930 last year and four months into this fiscal year there have been 252 tree removal permits processed.

Based on last year’s number of permits, the city would have gained $23,250 in revenue had a $25 fee been in place, according to city calculations.

The previous city council last year decided not to adopt the $25 tree removal permit fee, but the new council asked the matter be brought back for discussion. The $25 charge is consistent with the cost of a fence construction permit, Rast said.

Councilman Eric Imker said he opposed the fee, though he was “tempted” by the potential revenue.

Imker said he was concerned the city would reach a point where a fee might be assessed “for people walking down the cart path if we could find a way to do it.”

Mayor Don Haddix asked Imker if he felt the cost of administering tree permits should come from property taxes.

Imker responded that city staff salaried are currently funded from the city’s general fund which includes a number of revenue sources.

Council last week voted to continue discussion at the Feb. 18 meeting so staff would have a chance to research other options.