A proposal that would streamline the process of getting building permits in Portland has unequivocal support.

How to pay for it, however, is in dispute.

On Monday, the Portland City Council will decide whether to create a new Permitting and Inspections Department with the objective of reducing wait times for building permits – and whether to pay for the changes by increasing the cost of the permits.

Last year, the average wait time was 42 days, up from 35 days the year before. In some other cities, it can take less than a week.

By creating the new office – a one-stop shop for inspections, building permits, business licensing and zoning determinations – incomplete applications would be identified more quickly and some permits could get approved on the spot.

The proposal, put together by City Manager Jon Jennings, calls for three new planning technicians, an intake and review manager and an inspections manager, allowing for the elimination of the inspections division director and deputy director, a full-time and a part-time office assistant and an administrative assistant.

Those changes alone would result in a $280,000 increase in salaries and benefits. In addition, the office would incur costs of $300,000 for technology upgrades and $8,000 for training.

The current funding plan proposes to raise building permit fees from 1.1 percent to 1.6 percent of construction costs, after the first $1,000 – a 45 percent increase.

Although developers, along with councilors, are heaping praise on Jennings for addressing the long-identified problem, they’d prefer not to have to shoulder the cost.

“I’m delighted that the city is looking seriously at making that department more efficient,” said Jim Brady, who is behind the proposed redevelopment of the Portland Co. complex.

However, he said, even based on rough estimates, the change in permitting fees would easily add more than $500,000 to his project.

“My concern is that the city has had a difficult time having larger projects moving forward,” he said. “I’m concerned about adding additional layers of cost to a project.”

The Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce is also “very supportive of the overall plans,” said Chief Executive Officer Chris Hall.

But, he added, he hoped to see the fee structure adjusted before the council votes.

“We all want more housing development, and obviously when you’re adding costs to large-scale developments, you want to make sure you don’t tip the balance too far,” he said. “You want to attract investment.”

As an alternative funding source, Brady suggested adding $5 or $10 to the $25 baseline fee required of all projects – the equivalent, he said, of a Starbucks grande cappuccino for everyone, rather than burdensome costs for larger projects.

Currently, all applications – both large and small – are put into the same pipeline and undergo extensive review by zoning and planning officials. The change would eliminate a zoning review for smaller projects.

According to the city, about 60 percent of all permit requests are small residential rehab projects.

Brady said he doesn’t know of any city, other than Portland and South Portland, where permit fees are over 1 percent. That includes Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont.

Councilor David Brenerman, chairman of the council’s Economic Development Committee, said he plans to propose an amendment that would lower the proposed fee to 1.5 percent – the same as South Portland.

“We don’t need to have the highest permit fee in the region,” he said.

Brenerman also wants to exempt projects that have already been approved and grandfather projects that include affordable housing, which qualify for fee reductions, so that they stay at the current rate.

He believes those changes would still allow for the creation of the office, which is what’s most important.

“Everybody on the council believes that this is a terrific idea and one that we wish happened a long time ago,” he said.