According to the study’s analysis, the City believes that the current fees do not accurately reflect the costs of fee-generated services.
City Manager Rod Butler said the City has not undertaken a comprehensive fee update for a number of years, resulting in a loss of income and an out-of-date fee schedule.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 City’s current fees has been providing a financial subsidy through the general fund to benefit those that have requested the various services.
“We’ve had to take a lot of steps to be sure [fee increases] were addressed,” said Bulter on Monday, Sept. 23. “In the spring or summer of 2011, we entered into a contract with PMC. Over the last couple years, we’ve been working on a massive study. It’s been so long since we’ve done a comprehensive fee study, and we are looking to update our costs.”
“The last fee increase was in 2007 or 2008,” added Minerva “Minnie” Moreno, city finance director. “Maybe even before then. Our last utility increase was in 2002.”
In addition to the current fee increases, Moreno added that additional departments, such as fire and user fees, will need to come back to city council in the near future for a cost effective review.
“Most cities already have those fees in place,” said Butler. “We didn’t have anything in place to recover staff time. The community is getting a freebie in Patterson that they’d have to pay in another city.”
To allocate a proper price for these added fees, 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.
“We chose these cities because they are within our region and similar to Patterson in some ways,” said Butler. “It helps to see how competitive we are to them and realize what is realistic in terms of pricing; especially on development and planning fees.”
Butler said it was important to be mindful of Patterson’s economic growth and fee increases simultaneously to promote more businesses.
The study’s comparison to Turlock, for example, was chosen as a means to address Patterson’s potential economic boost due to off-ramp amenities.
“It is really important that we distinguish ourselves,” said Moreno. “The study is focused on demographics. Turlock has Highway 99 and Patterson has I-5 (Interstate-5). We need to see where we stand as a comparison to them because they are our competitors.”
According to Butler, Patterson’s new fee increase is within the median price range of the comparable cities.
The city of Patterson has attempted to outreach as many customers as possible even before its approval on Aug. 20. They have since posted signs outside their building, advertised the changes on the City website and sent out public notices for the council meeting.
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.
“The City is trying to run its financial affairs the best way possible,” said Bulter. “Residents can rest assure the reason we are addressing this study is to defend what we are charging to recover those services.”
For a complete list of fee changes, please visit http://bit.ly/16mb8Or
• Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org