Tulsa Resident Surprised By Hefty Fee For Building Storm Shelter - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Tulsa Resident Surprised By Hefty Fee For Building Storm Shelter

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The massive destruction in Moore revealed one thing: storm shelters can save lives. The massive destruction in Moore revealed one thing: storm shelters can save lives.
Maghin Abernathy lives in Tulsa and says the Moore tragedy has pushed her to install a storm shelter. Maghin Abernathy lives in Tulsa and says the Moore tragedy has pushed her to install a storm shelter.
At City Hall, Abernathy was told she would most likely have to pay a $220 building permit fee. At City Hall, Abernathy was told she would most likely have to pay a $220 building permit fee.
"We have been tasked, in our department, to recover our cost of service," said Cheryl Reichman, the manager of permits for the City of Tulsa. "We have been tasked, in our department, to recover our cost of service," said Cheryl Reichman, the manager of permits for the City of Tulsa.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Storm shelters are a hot topic after a rash of deadly storms. Having one can mean the difference between life or death, but it can also take a chunk out of your pocketbook.

If you're looking to buy one, you should know the permit alone could cost anywhere from nothing to $260, depending on where you live.

The massive destruction in Moore revealed one thing: storm shelters can save lives.

"We are doing a flat safe storm shelter in our garage," said Maghin Abernathy.

Abernathy lives in Tulsa and says the Moore tragedy has pushed her to install a storm shelter. She picked a contractor and agreed on a price: $3,200. But then came a big surprise when she went to City Hall.

"I was overwhelmed," Abernathy said.

She was told she would most likely have to pay a $220 building permit fee.

"I don't think there should be a fee required. If so, definitely an affordable fee," she said.

5/28/2013 Related Story: Storm Shelters Of All Types Performed Well In Moore Tornado

The fee charged by the City of Tulsa is the largest in the state. In Oklahoma City it's $70, in Moore there's a $24.50 fee.

Here in Green Country, Claremore doesn't charge anything, Owasso's is $29, in Jenks and Broken Arrow it's around $60, and in Tulsa it can be as much as $260.

"We have been tasked, in our department, to recover our cost of service," said Cheryl Reichman, the manager of permits for the City of Tulsa.

Reichman said the fee is set by the city council and pays for city employees to review the building plan. That includes an architectural, zoning, and water and sewer review, plus one inspection, as well as office staff to process the paperwork.

The fee is based on the value of whatever you're building.

Reichman said the goal is for the city to get back the money it spends to make sure your project is safe and follows city code, without raising taxes.

"If you weren't building anything yourself, it's not really right for you to have to subsidize someone else that is doing some building," Reichman said.

Abernathy doesn't mind paying for a permit, she just says the city is discouraging homeowners from installing a storm shelter by charging such a high fee.

Since the City of Tulsa does not have a special permit just for safe rooms or storm shelters, it has no way of tracking where they are located in the city.

But Mayor Bartlett has said he would like the city to create a database where residents can register their shelter.

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