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Supervisors approve service fee increases for Environmental Health

Service fees are increasing at Plumas County Environmental Health by 8 to 10 percent in most, but not all, cases.

That’s what Director Jerry Sipe explained Tuesday, Jan. 7, as he presented a new master fee schedule for the department to members of the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors approved Sipe’s recommendations for increases in a resolution that included a public hearing and opportunity for public discussion.

“I’m glad you did this,” Supervisor Jeff Engel told Sipe following the close of a public comment period in which no one from the public spoke. Engel said that far too often departments aren’t keeping up on how much it costs them to do programs.

Supervisor Lori Simpson agreed. When departments don’t keep up with costs then the impact is much larger when it suddenly hits the consumer.

Increases

“In accordance with the board policy, county departments should periodically review and recommend updates to their service fees,” Sipe explained. Environmental Health’s service fees were last updated in April 2017. “They need to be updated to reflect the current cost to provide the service,” he said.

There are also a few new fees that have been added.

Sipe told supervisors that there is set methodology used to calculate fees. It’s long been used not just by Environmental Health, but other county departments as well.

It includes computations of the overhead costs, direct employee costs, services and supply costs. There are also indirect costs. “To calculate each individual fee, every service activity has a separate worksheet which is based on the department’s expenses, the number of services performed and the department’s time accounting records,” he explained.

Fee examples

Sipe offered supervisors a look at fees and how they have changed from 2017 to the present.

For instance, the current fee for a large food and beverage facility permit went from $294 to $315. Fees for a small facility went from $193 to $208.

An animal bite investigation went from $74 to $81. Large animal rabies testing is currently $211 and increases to $230. For small animals it is $129, and that increased to $141.

An underground storage tank installation and plan check increases from $337 to $360. Related services have also increased.

Hazardous waste for a large quantity generator is going from $141 to $147 a year. The small one is $106 and increases to $115. Very small business increases from $23 to $36.

Sipe told supervisors that in nearly all cases the fee increases are based on what it costs the department. One exception is with photocopies. The current fee was 20 cents per page. Although it costs the department 26 cents per page, they have rounded it off at 25 cents.

In another area, emergency response and cleanup, it costs the department $137 per hour. The fee has been rounded off to $135 to make accounting easier. This is one of the new fees added to the department’s list, Sipe explained.

Other new fees include community system operating permits, alternative domestic water supply review and approval, underground storage tank system re-inspection, and aboveground petroleum storage tank installation and plan checking.

An area where fees went down was in monitoring well installation permits. That went from $307 each down to $196.

For a complete list of service fees and requirements, contact Environmental Health at 283-6355. The department is on the first floor of the Courthouse Annex in Quincy.

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