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Supervisors reject county fee hikes

Now is not the time to raise county fees, according to the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors. In a study session to look at current and proposed county fees, supervisors told staff members to bring the fee issue back with greater detail later in the year.

The process started as an effort to make a master list of fees charged by Calaveras County and to have that list reviewed by the supervisors annually. In April the Administrative Office asked department heads for a list of current and proposed fees.

County administrative officer Tom Mitchell told supervisors that without an increase in fees there is an “inequity in the cost of doing business versus fees charged.”

“We´re not a business,” Supervisor Paul Stein said. “Customers can´t shop elsewhere for service. It´s almost like double taxation.”

Supervisors recommended that each county department show their calculations and explain why a fee increase is needed. “I´m not in favor of adopting fees right now,” Stein said. “We´re in an economic downturn. (If fees are raised) we should raise fees at the top of an economical cycle.”

Supervisor Lucy Thein was in support of raising smaller fees. “A little bit here and there,” she said.

Mitchell pointed out the increase in fees is not proposed to make up for the $481,000 budget deficit facing the county. The Environmental Health and Public Works departments proposed hikes in their fees.

Supervisors agreed they liked seeing all of the fees at once and would like to continue to see them in that format every year. “It´s pretty enlightening when you see it all compiled in one place,” Stein said.

Mitchell said he would work with the Auditor´s Office to review the numbers and calculate actual cost and bring the fees back to the board in late October to early November.

Once the board sees the fees again it will decide in January whether to adopt them.

Calaveras Enterprise story by Vanessa Turner. For more Calaveras news, click: calaverasenterprise.com