|Brookings council proposes fee hikes this year|
|Written by Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer|
|February 05, 2014 09:34 am|
Almost all fees charged by the City of Brookings — from business licenses for circuses to park use fees — will see a slight uptick if the city council approves the recommendations discussed at a work session Monday afternoon.
The city council reviews the fees every year, said City Manager Gary Milliman, and decides whether to apply a cost-of-living adjustment.
The costs haven’t increased much over the years, noted Mayor Ron Hedenskog.
“I remember in 1979 when I bought my first business license for $60,” he said. “Now it’s $62.”
Most fees are only increasing a dollar or two, and include business licenses, permits related to events, city payment agreement set-ups, fees related to taxicab drivers and businesses and those for the use of park facilities.
Affecting citizens the most could be the cost of using the Capella by the Sea in Azalea Park, whose basic fee will increase $1 to $102 an hour, and the security deposit to $205.
To rent the concession stand and restrooms in the park will go up $1 to $77, as well as the cost to hold a gathering in the park, to $41 for city residents.
The most dramatic fee increases — and the vast majority are less than $25 — will be seen in the planning department, with requests for annexations going to $5,102, conditional use permits to $2,612, and zoning changes to $2,761.
New fees include details in the costs of photocopying records, obtaining a Home Occupation License and sewer tap-ins, the latter of which fees are set to reflect the actual time and materials needed to do the job.
Fees to use the swimming pool are determined by Milliman and have yet to be set.
New fees, including those for the expanded GIS offerings such as maps and digital maps; and home occupation licenses the city approved last month, were added.
Business licenses, which garner the city about $50,000 a year, captured the attention of the council Monday, when it was asked why companies with more employees have to pay more money toward business licenses — or even why they exist at all.
“But I remember coughing when I had to spend that $60,” Hedenskog said. “A poor contractor trying to make a buck. There was a question if we should even have a business fee for something that doesn’t even offer a service.”
Finance Director Janelle Howard said business licenses are usually put in place so cities can keep track of what’s going on in town. She said she often receives requests for information relating to the owner of a given business, or from people seeking particular kinds of companies.
Council members agreed they would ask Milliman to talk with Assistant Fire Chief Jim Watson regarding the cost of the “Burn to Learn” program, which was proposed to increase from $4,046 to $4,107.
That program allows homeowners who plan to rebuild on their property to permit firefighters to train and burn down the building on their land. The cost — and cleanup associated with it — fall to the homeowner.
“In talking with the fire chief, Burn to Learn is a good training experience — something we’d want to encourage,” said Council Member Jake Pieper. “But we price it so high, nobody can afford to do it.”