OFFICIALS MAY DOUBLE PARK, ANIMAL FEES

April 06, 2001 11:00 pm

GOLD BEACH Most county fees will be doubled by the Curry County Commissioners to help balance the budget for fiscal year 2001-02.

Some, like dog licenses, were raised last year. Others have not been increased since the early 1990s or even the mid-1980s.

The state determines what the county can charge for some goods and services. Where the commissioners have some leeway, fees will increase or even double.

For example, camp site fees at Boice-Cope County Park have remained at $8 since 1992.

Commissioner Marlyn Schafer said Monday that the parks septic system needs to be repaired and expanded.

Worse, she said she discovered that former community justice director Ron Mathis illegally doubled the number of spaces for rent at the park, further overtaxing the septic system.

The county will have to close all but the 19 approved spaces, cutting its revenue in half. To replace that and pay for the septic improvements, Schafer proposed raising the fees to between $11 and $15.

She said state parks charge $18-20 for the same kind of camp sites. Boice-Cope has no water or sewer hookups, but offers shower facilities.

Charges for showers may also go up. Commissioner Lucie La Bont said other campgrounds in the area dont offer them.

Citizen Gloria Rodgers agreed the fees should be doubled. She said the park is very well-maintained and pleasant.

Schafer said the camp hosts at the park have told her people think the current rates are too low.

County Counsel Jerry Herbage said people havent been paying the true cost of staying at Boice-Cope.

The commissioners would also like more input from citizens on how to raise revenue from the park.

The doubling of dog license fees was discussed at Wednesdays budget meetings.

Commissioner Cheryl Thorp said the animal shelter will definitely get a $10,000 donation from the South Coast Humane Society to help balance its $18,000 deficit this year.

For fiscal year 2001-02, however, Animal Control Supervisor Trig Garayalde asked for $46,149 from the countys general fund.

La Bont said the humane society will contribute more food and bedding to the shelter, and will work on increasing license sales.

Thorp said signs should be posted at veterinary offices advising dog owners of county license laws. She said the veterinarians cant be expected to enforce license laws, however.

Gold Beach veterinarian Barbara Barke agreed that she cant be a stool-pigeon on her customers. She said posting the signs would be no problem.

She said veterinarians may have to start charging the county for work they put in selling licenses.

Barke suggested posting signs in public buildings saying the shelter will be run purely on user fees. She thought license fees should be doubled from $8 for a spayed or neutered dog to $16.

Schafer said, We have to run it as a business and collect all the impound fees.

Barke said people are being cut too much slack on that right now.

Schafer admitted getting tough on impound fees might result in owners not picking up their dogs. Garayalde said most of those dogs would then have to be euthanized.

He was in favor of the fee increase, but wanted it to apply equally to all dog owners. Schafer originally proposed a discount for seniors, but Garayalde said, A substantial number of dogs belong to seniors.

Thorp said those seniors dont always have the money to license their dogs.

La Bont asked how anyone who couldnt pay $15 a year to license a dog could afford to feed it.

Garayalde favored a tax levy to raise money for the shelter. La Bont said she would support putting a levy on the ballot if citizens petitioned for it, but said it would have to wait for a primary or general election.

The commissioners decided to project $5,000 a year from increased fees in Garayaldes budget, which could serve as a cash carry-over to the next year.

Schafer said the problem is the shelter is projecting revenues of $3,200 a month, with expenses of $6,737 a month.

Because fees were raised on July 1 last year, they cant be raised until July 1 this year.

The commissioners decided they would look into all county fees. That will include a doubling of charges for maps from the assessors and surveyors offices, as well as an increase of recording and elections office fees.

Schafer said Friday that building and planning fees are not even close to what the state allows, and will also be increased.