County raises fees

  Only one person objected when the Plumas County Board of Supervisors raised fees for several services provided by the county.

  “How will these fees attract more business to Plumas County?” Crescent Mills resident Todd Anderson asked during the board’s Oct. 16 meeting.

  Anderson likened the county fees to the new state fire fee that the supervisors oppose.

  County Counsel Craig Settlemire told Anderson there is a difference. “CalFire is an across-the-board state fee. These fees are based on the cost of providing the service.”

  Departments that requested fee hikes or new fees had to provide justification for those changes.

  During the meeting, the supervisors approved new and increased fees for the departments of agriculture, clerk-recorder, environmental health, library, mental health, public guardian and public works.

  About a half-dozen other departments are expected to make fee requests at a later date.

  In his request, Agriculture Commissioner Keith Mahan wrote that the fees in his department had not been raised for several years. In his proposal many of those fees increased by 50 percent, while others doubled, tripled and quadrupled.

  He estimated that the fee hikes would increase his department’s revenue by $10,000 annually.

  Environmental health proposed three new fees for food preparation permits, which range from $25 to $65 per year. The new categories include homemade foods that are sold directly or indirectly to the consumer, and satellite food facilities.

  Recording a document in the clerk-recorder’s office will now cost $15 for the first page and $3 per subsequent page.

  It will now cost $3 to borrow an item from the county library that has to be sent via mail through the inter-library loan services program to cover postage.

  Mental health last adjusted its fees in 2003-04. Many of the new fees are based on per-minute, per-person staff time and increased by 40 to 70 cents per minute. For example, case management is now calculated at $2.20 per minute, rather than the former rate of $1.77 per minute.

  Board and care costs at Sierra House increased from $1,148 to $3,445 per month.

  “This increase brings it to true cost and true alignment with other counties,” said Interim Mental Health Director Pat Leslie during a follow-up interview. She said most of the costs are covered by the clients’ benefits.

  The public guardian can bill its time at $35.78 per hour when it’s possible to recoup its costs while working on guardian and conservator cases. Any such charges must be approved by a Superior Court judge.

  The public works department proposed the most new fees — 17 — and asked that 10 others be increased.

  The new fees are for costs associated with new development projects.

  “Review of these development applications is focused on issues and impacts related to development standards, site development, circulation, traffic safety, grading, flood plain, drainage, water quality and erosion control,” Public Works Director Bob Perreault wrote in his request. The department hadn’t been charging for the work.

  A development agreement will now require a $1,000 deposit with work billed at $68.32 per hour against the deposit.

  A modification of a recorded map will cost $156, while a tentative map will cost $292.

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