Camarillo City Council vote to increase fees

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By Logan McFadden

The Camarillo City Council narrowly approved a new User Fee Schedule for City services provided to persons for private benefit.  Fees were generally increased, including a 1.7% labor cost adjustment.  As reported by Citizens Journal earlier this month, the public hearing was extended on July 9th to July 23, 2014.  On July 9th, Council members asked staff to provide additional information to justify the proposed increased fees.  Staff explained that the detail requested by the Council did not include a reset of permit categories, however, the staff did discuss in more detail the processes used to determine the new fees. The staff report on the new user fees: HERE

Prior to the July 23rd meeting, an enhanced comprehensive study was distributed by staff to the Council for review.  The methodology used to calculate the fees includes both direct and indirect costs for services provided to individual residents, businesses and developers.  The City’s policy is to recover 100% of these costs. 

The same concerned citizen, who addressed the Council on July 9th, spoke again.  He questioned the “outrageous” fees and indirectly suggested that the $46 million in the General Fund should be used to subsidize fees when businesses are struggling to recover in a sluggish economy.  He challenged the Council members to explain the proposed fees at a “basic understanding” level.  He stated that staff did not adequately respond to Councilmember Michael Morgan’s request for “step by step” detail on the fees charged for a tentative track map and release of an impounded car. 

Mr. Morgan also stated that staff’s revised report did not address the “step by step” process that he had requested in order to give him a better understanding of the factors which impact the fee calculation of the two examples.  He said he did not understand how the same fee is charged for a tentative track map for five homes as a map for 25 homes.  He stated that there should be more categories such as 5-10, 11-15, etc. with a graduated fee schedule.  Staff responded that the request would require retaining an outside consultant to do a new “time and motion study” as staff does not have the expertise needed to reset categories.   Staff emphasized that the proposed fees had been explained during non-public study sessions.  The Chief of Police was in attendance and shed more light on the impound fee calculation.

Councilmember Jan McDonald responded that the staff report did satisfactorily justify the proposed fee increases and reminded the Council and residents that these fees are not a tax, but simply recover the costs associated with processing a permit.  Councilmember Charlotte Craven pointed out that homeowners do receive a discount for some permits in order to encourage homeowners to comply with City ordinances.  Vice Mayor Bill Little stated that he did not agree with 100% cost recovery of regulatory fees.  Mayor Kevin Kildee verified with staff that permit fees include both the inspector’s time on site and the time to prepare and file a report.  He also opined that staff had done a “good job” updating the fee schedule based upon the last outside consultant’s “time and motion” study. 

The resolution establishing a new User Fee Schedule passed by a 3-2 vote.  Councilmember Morgan and Vice Mayor Little voted against adopting the new fee schedule.

Logan McFadden is our newest Citizensjournal.us city reporter and a recently retired banker, residing in Camarillo.

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3 Responses to Camarillo City Council vote to increase fees

  1. Chris August 1, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Why does government it seems always want to impose or increase fees? Government policies should be about job creation. This should be one of its main focus.

    Chris
    Owner CEL Financial Services
    Please visit my website for all your Income Tax Santa Paula needs.

    Reply

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