Our planning department not only evaluates projects, it collects the fees from project applicants. The result is that planning staff, understandably, often seem to feel that they are working to serve the applicants rather than the needs of the city at large. Because staff analyses and recommendations are often heavily biased in favor of the applicants, the planning commission and city council may make decisions that are not in the best interests of our city.
I don't know how other cities handle planning department funding, but seems to me that the collecting fee function needs to be as separate as possible from the planning function. Otherwise, there is a serious conflict of interest.