New permit and inspection fees were set for the City of Alma during its city council meeting Thursday night.

Alma city aldermen approved an ordinance increasing permit and inspection fees during their Thursday meeting. The ordinance cited increasing fuel, equipment and personnel costs as the reason behind the need for increased fees.

An emergency clause putting the new fees into effect immediately also was passed.

Chapen Rucker with Rucker Fine Homes spoke up against putting the fees into immediate effect, arguing that it would put a hardship on contractors who haven’t been notified of the change.

"It’s not necessarily going to affect me; it’s going to affect my heating and air guy, my plumber and my electrician," Rucker said. "That’s something that’s going to blindside them when they wake up in the morning and realize their fees have doubled overnight."

Though Rucker did not argue against the fee increases, he asked that city aldermen postpone putting the change into effect or that they allow outstanding properties to be grandfathered in under the old fees, as the new amounts were not included in contract bids.

"Our fees have been low for a long time," said Mayor John Ballentine.

"And I agree," answered Rucker, "and this is a great place to build."

Alma Building Inspector Pee Wee Parsons created the list of increased fees based on comparisons with surrounding cities, he said.

When aldermen asked Parsons how many outstanding structures were currently in Alma, he answered that there was only one.

"Is that mine?" Rucker asked. Parsons said that it was.

Rucker told the council that he actually was attending the meeting for a separate reason and had no idea the permit item was on the agenda, but took notice when it came up for vote.

Alma aldermen passed the ordinance and its emergency clause with a unanimous vote.

A copy of the updated permit and inspection fees list can be obtained at the city municipal complex.

City aldermen also passed an ordinance banning the use of flex heating and air return and supply lines because of the potential for fire hazards.

A variance request for a storm shelter on Alma North Street also was approved. The shelter fails to comply with city setback regulations, even though it is "way back" from the street, said Alma Public Works Director Mark Yardley.

It would cost the owners several thousands to drill the rock on their property to move the shelter further from the street, so they requested - and were granted - the hardship variance.