County Will Consider Increasing Service Fees : Government: Residents would pay more for hundreds of duties under a plan on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda today.
Ventura County residents would pay more for hundreds of services--from dog licensing to weed removal--under a comprehensive rate-hike scheme the Board of Supervisors will consider today.
Dog licenses would increase by as much as $3. Permits to film in unincorporated areas would jump $10. Weed-abatement services provided by the Ventura County Fire Department would rise substantially.
The proposed increases average roughly 6% and are primarily aimed at keeping pace with increased operating costs and other expenses, said David Stoll, a county administrative analyst.
Some departments have not raised their fees in years and are simply updating their charges, Stoll said. Others are looking to offset increases in overhead costs for things like utilities and phone service, he said.
In all, the board will review more than 700 county fees and service rates, with nearly half being considered for increases, he said. The remaining fees would either see a slight decrease or remain unchanged.
The bulk of the increases would occur in the fire, animal regulation and public works departments, as well as the county’s Resource Management Agency and the Alcohol and Drug Department of the Health Care Agency.
But the proposed fee increases already appear to be running into trouble with county supervisors.
Supervisor Frank Schillo said he was outraged by the number of fee hikes being proposed. He also complained that the staff report included no acceptable explanation for why the fees were needed or how the proposals for increases were developed.
“This is a sloppy, sloppy report,” Schillo said. “This whole thing is just a big fiasco. It’s not worthy of discussion.”
Schillo said he planned to ask the board to postpone the matter until he has had more time to investigate the increases.
“I’m not going to vote on something I don’t understand,” he said.
Supervisor John Flynn said he also has problems with some of the fee hikes. He said that raising permit fees for film production companies from $150 to $160 would hurt the county’s efforts to attract business.
“It’s only going to deter filming in the county,” he said.
Flynn said he will be out of town on county business today, so he also will ask to continue the fee issue.
Meanwhile, officials at some county departments maintained that their fee hikes are aimed at offsetting higher operating costs.
The county Fire Department has not raised any of its service fees for two years, said Abbe Cohen, fiscal manager of the department. She said the department is seeking to raise fees for everything from weed abatement to fire alarm inspections for businesses. Both fees would depend on the size of the properties or buildings involved.
Cohen said the Fire Department had hired a consultant to determine which fees should be raised and how they should be calculated. She said the proposed fees would bring in an estimated $200,000 to $400,000 additionally a year for the department.
She said the increased revenues are needed to replace aging fire trucks and special emergency equipment, such as defibrillators.
“Our needs exceed our current revenues,” Cohen said.
Schillo singled out the Fire Department for praise. He said the department kept the board apprised of its plans for fee hikes and provided them with ample information to consider the increases.