Council members expressed concern over several fees but pointed specifically at the increase in late fees for water bills.
“With the high unemployment rate people are still hurting,” Councilman Dominic Farinha said at the meeting. “I feel it’s not the time to implement such unfair fees.”
An increase of a late fee for water bills from $10 to $25 seemed to hurt folks already hurting from poor economic conditions council members said.
Farinha, who brought up the fees issue before the council, also pointed to a $301 fee for bingo games to be held in the city with no provision for non-profits, and expressed concern it could effect bingo operations at the Hammon Senior Center.
He also stated that increases in business license fees and an $854 “public convenience” fee for festivals and public events were “putting the nail in our own foot.”
Councilwoman Deborah Novelli agreed.
“In my opinion they’re exorbitant,” she said.
Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten agreed that some fees should be looked at, but pointed out that it had been several years since the city looked at fees and administrative fees.
City Manager Rod Butler said recently the City had not undertaken a comprehensive fee update for a number of years, resulting in a loss of income and an out-of-date fee schedule.
The fee increases and recommendations were part of a study by PMC, a city consultant that has been helping consult on management issues as well as the city’s master plan process.
PMC’s comprehensive study reviewed comparable fees from neighboring communities — Turlock, Lathrop, Los Banos, Gustine, Atwater and Newman. Additional comparisons were made for other city fee structures, including charges for returned transactions and parking violations.
Butler said the City’s goal is to look at the cost analysis every two years, and to no longer rely on an outside firm to conduct the study during its next proposed increase.
Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.