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Santa Monica City Officials Set to Add, Update Fees

 
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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

May 24, 2107 -- As the Santa Monica City Council wades into its proposed $1.57 billion biennial budget for 2017-2019, it is considering adding 40 new user fees for everything from vendor carts at special events to seismic retrofits of buildings.

The City also could add a couple of new penalties and a slew of increases and eliminate fees that are no longer needed or are being consolidated, according to a staff report to the council.

All told, the fees would add $1,373,873 in revenue to the $18.2 million they currently bring in, staff said.

Of the 40 new fees, 14 would jump by 100 percent or more. Another 43 are proposed for elimination, either because they are no longer needed or are being consolidated.

The recommended hikes come as City officials consider updating fees they say don’t reflect the full cost of some services, add new ones to reflect new needs or eliminate/consolidate others, according to staff.

New fees range from paying $12 for a 22 x 34” precinct map to $346.53 for City inspection of studios and theaters wishing to use minor pyrotechnics.

Seven of the new fees -- which range from $35 to $257 -- are the result of the City’s new mandatory seismic retrofit program.

The most expensive of the new fees is aimed at developers/property owners. It is for “manifold service” for multi-family or multi-unit commercial water accounts, allowing for a one-time fee of $6,817 instead of individual fees per meter.

Some of the fee increases represent major hikes, although they are not for wide-spread services.

For instance, the fee for a one-day valet permit -- currently $167.75 -- would jump 127 percent to $330.17 under staff's recommendations. That would be more than twice as high as its counterpart in Beverly Hills ($140 per day), although the hike is phased in.

The “House Moving” fee charged to relocate a building or structure would jump from $540.16 to $1,956.94, a hike of 262 percent. Long Beach charges $331.

Among the new fees are the following:

* $111.22 an hour to sweep parking lots after resurfacing (for businesses and residents)

* $7.69 for garbage and recycle cart rollout services for the elderly or overweight (for businesses and residents)

* $161.97 for smaller Container (Cart) Rentals for special events (for businesses and residents

* $5 “Half Price Days” at the Annenberg Beach House pool (for individuals and businesses) and $2.50 “Half Price Days” for senior citizens and youth (all for individuals and businesses)

Many of the fees -- especially those relating to pets -- would see little change.

About 20 fees for adopting pets from the City animal shelter, getting vaccinations, dog licenses, spay/neuter surgery and similar services are likely to change little, the report indicated.

Such fees are heavily subsidized by the City and the recommendation by staff is to increase them by 3.5 percent -- remaining far lower than cost.

Thus, the basic cost of adopting a puppy, dog, kitten or cat would rise from the current fee of $50.29 to $52.05 -- instead of the $122.42 cost without City subsidy, the report said.

Most fees attached to the Police Department also would change little because they already recover almost all -- or all -- of associated costs, the report said.

Likewise for the City Fire Department, although some of its fees would rise to reflect actual cost, the report said.

For example, the SMFD annual fee for convalescent hospitals rises from $640.81 to $870. Fees for day care centers with less than 50 occupants increase from the current $175.58 to $232.61, and from $329.91 to 445.13 for daycare centers with more than 50 occupants.

The fee for pre-schools increases from the current $287.42 to $329.88.

The update in fees is based on an eight-month analysis by MGT Consulting Group in Sacramento.

Although the City uses the General Fund to subsidize some fees, like those related to Animal Control, it could potentially bring in $19.4 million if it upped those fees so its existing cost recovery rate increased to 100 percent when subsidies aren’t considered a needed public service.

In public works, the consultants recommend removing or consolidating about a dozen fees. Gone would be a $460 fee for bike rack installation, for instance. But roughly the same number of existing fees jump to 100 percent of cost.

 


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