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Newport Junior Guards fees are tentatively spared from increases

Newport Junior Guards fees are tentatively spared from increases
Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards participate in the “Monster Mile” swim-run event, a highlight of the popular city-run summer youth program, in 2015. The council agreed that participants’ price tag should hold steady at $727 rather than increase to $768. (File Photo)

The cost to participate in the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards program is not expected to increase alongside other city user fees.

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The City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to solidify a package of adjustments to the citywide departmental fee menu, with Councilman Kevin Muldoon voting against and Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield recusing himself because of how updates may impact his business interests in Newport Harbor.

This set of changes includes increased, decreased, unchanged, new and eliminated fees. Increases would be to recover costs.

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Muldoon said he’s generally against fee increases, and he was specifically concerned by a proposed cost hike to enroll in Junior Guards.

The increase would have added $41 to the cost, increasing the fee for the popular summer youth program from $727 to $768. The council agreed that participants’ price tag should hold steady, keeping the city’s subsidy at about 18%.

Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill agreed with Muldoon’s concerns. About 1,400 children, ages 9 to 15, enroll in Junior Guards every summer to learn ocean safety.

“If we need to subsidize just a bit at the city level then that’s probably worthy,” he said.

The council went along with staff’s recommendation to take “life safety services” fees off the table, at least for now, to work on comparison data for the local Building Industry Assn.

These fees, which include annual business operations permits inspections and fire-prevention inspections of newly built hotels and apartment complexes, will return on an undetermined date.

Changes that passed the council include increased fees for some paramedic responses, a new fee to set up payment plans for parking tickets and other city citations, and an increased fee for lifeguard staffing for special requests such as permitted filming on the beach.

The adjustments will come back for a final vote in August.

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