Local residents will soon see higher fees for some services such as applying for a marriage license, filing a fictitious business statement and some other services at the San Benito County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voter’s office.
After conducting a fee study, Clerk- Auditor-Recorder Joe Paul Gonzalez and his staff members concluded the cost of conducting business in the office to be $1.22 per minute, with new fees calculated based on how long it takes staff members to perform said services.
In a study provided to the San Benito County Board of Supervisors before they approved the fees Tuesday, it was estimated the cost of providing services in the office to residents is $330,731 annually. The report adjusted for time when employees are not productive either due to workday breaks, legal holidays or vacation times to come up with an average number of productive hours for each year that could then be used to calculate time that is of benefit to customers.
The annual cost figure including staff salaries, indirect costs to the county, services and supplies, management support, information technology services improvement, cost increases for inflation and the cost-recovery study. During the study period, staff members tracked how long it took them to complete the activities associated with all the services they provide to residents.
For instance, they found it took 56 minutes on average to issue a regular marriage license, including time working with a client directly and for tasks such as filing or mailing the documentation to state offices. At $1.22 per minutes, the cost to provide the service is $68.32 and there is also a $6.50 state fee collected at the county level.
The ordinance includes a fee of $75 for a regular marriage license, an increase of $15 over the past fee.
“The study has been submitted to justify the fees,” said Gonzalez during a public hearing at the supervisor’s meeting Tuesday. “All fees are being recommended to be collected by the Clerk-Recorder.”
Gonzalez said the fees are allowed through the government code or the business professional code and they do not require approval of voters as taxes do. The study also included a comparison of San Benito County’s fees compared to other counties.
“The fees are not excessive compared to other counties and they are justified based on cost,” Gonzalez said.
Supervisor Margie Barrios said she appreciated the “comprehensive report and the comparison to other counties.
“It was helpful,” she said.
Supervisors approved the ordinance with the new fees.
Fees for some services have not increased as the time study found the fee was sufficient to cover the cost of the service. For instance, the birth certificate and death certificate search fees stayed the same.
Gonzalez noted in the agenda item included with the study that his office conducted the study because every county office is “encouraged to assess actual costs for providing services and, where the law allows, require fees and charges to be adjusted to cover actual costs.” The funding for the Clerk-Recorder-Registrar of Voters is paid out of the county’s general fund, which in recent years has been strained.
For a full list of fees in the newly approved ordinance, visit www.sanbenitocountytoday.com.