Council unanimously approves four updated fees

Aug. 20 Hollister City Council approved updated user fees for several departments

The City of Hollister will be charging higher fees for a wide range of services following an Aug. 20 unanimous vote by the City Council.

The fees applied to four departments; the city Recreation Division, Fire Department, Police Department and Development Services Department.

Many classes through the recreation department will see a small fee raise, for example, a hula class that used to be $65 for Hollister residents, will now be $70 to anyone in San Benito County.

The Fire Department will now charge a fee of $161 for fire extinguisher training, when before the instruction was free.

Police reports and traffic collision reports used to be free through the Hollister police department, but will now cost $10.

The Development Services Department deals with things like housing, building and planning in Hollister. A one time transportation permit through development services will be raised from $16 to $25 and an annual permit will be raised from $90 to $120.

Councilmember Mickie Solorio Luna said she appreciated being able to see the Hollister fee numbers compared to neighboring cities. She said Hollister’s fees were still lower despite the changes.

Each department prepared a user fee report. The description of the fees on the agenda stated, “By law, user fees may not exceed the reasonable cost of service for which they are collected. The intent of the fees may not exceed the reasonable cost of the service for which it is collected.”

A fee is what is paid by an individual who is using a city provided service. If the fire department was called to complete an emergency inspection, the fee for that inspection would be paid by that individual who used the department’s service.

A fee is not a tax that is paid by each city resident, it is only paid to fund the service used on an individual basis.

The department’s fees have been regularly adjusted with a pre-determined consumer price index. However, the departments recently completed a comprehensive study to analyze adjustments that needed to be made to make up the money spent to provide each service.

The last study took place in 2004, setting a base for all fees and a price index.

Following the new study, the price index will be used annually to adjust fee costs.

Solorio Luna said she didn’t want to wait another 14 years for the next time the fees were analyzed. “If we can do this every so often, that would be great,” said Solorio Luna.

Candidate for City Council District 4, Marty Richman, commented on the fees at the meeting. He asked the council to look at how fee costs could potentially be lowered as opposed to adjusting costs to the new cost of service. He said, “I’m very concerned that public agencies, because it’s good times, are just passing things along.”

City Manager, William Avera, said fees had typically been increased using the price index annually on the first of June.

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors is set to approve similar fee adjustments with a Schedule of Fees being voted on at an Aug. 21 meeting. The Schedule of fees is a list of all fees in the county and what they plan to be adjusted to.

Full changes to the Hollister city department fees can be found in the Aug. 20 agenda packet:

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