Supes agree to hike some fees

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Restoration of the Garcia House, which will house the Jack O'Donnell Visitor's Center, is close to being completed and will have a grand opening June 4 at the San Benito County Historical Park. In the weeks leading up to the opening, volunteers and park s

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors approved an increase in fees collected by the public works department for engineering services and development processing as well as park facility rentals.

Supervisor Margie Barrios expressed concern about the increase in fees for engineering services and development processing, noting that some of the fees went up four or five times.

“I know we are trying to recover some of the county’s cost,” she said. “My issue is that I am not sure how it will affect the public. I wonder if it can be done in a tiered manner.”

Public Works Administrator Steve Wittry said his staff had done a fee analysis that looked at how many employees are involved in each process and how much staff time is spent on each process to arrive at the new fee schedule. He also noted that the fee increases were long overdue because a former administrator had declined to revise the fee structure.

“This brings it up to par with the rest of the county,” Wittry said. “Some of our numbers were out of whack.”

He said if the supervisors were to approve the increases in an incremental manner, the county would continue to lose money on the services.

Before, the county charged $2 per sheet for blueprints that are 18 by 26 inches. The new fee will be $17. A requested letter was $20 and will now be $74. Single transportation permits will go from $16 to $40.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho said the county went through the same issue with the environmental health division, with the final year of a tiered increase going into effect this year. He said he would prefer if residents could pay an hourly fee that would be charged based on how much time staff members spend on a process, rather than a separate fee for each process.

“Another problem is people doing things and not coming in for a permit,” he said. “It causes the cost to go up for those who are trying to be legitimate.”

Supervisor Muenzer said he was concerned with the increase of fees that the county would continue to have a reputation as a bad place to do business.

After the discussion, the supervisors approved the fees 5-0, with implementation to start in 90 days.

At the same meeting, the supervisors approved the increase of barbecue rental facilities at San Benito County Historical Park to $50 per day from $25. The entire park can also be rented for $300 per day. The supervisors approved a fee waiver of three weekends per year, to be reserved at least six months in advance for the use of the park by the San Benito County Historical Society.

The rental fee for the barbecue area at the Veterans Memorial Park increased from $50 to $75, with a $50 cleaning/damage deposit. Users can also rent the Bertha Briggs Building for $225 per day, with a cleaning/damage deposit of $200. The supervisors approved a fee waiver of up to three weekends per fiscal year to be distributed among the veteran organizations in the county, to be coordinated six months in advance with the public works department.

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