By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
The cost of doing business in Westminster will not go up. That is, the city won’t increase its fees on businesses. A proposal to raise fees for the first time since 2006 failed Wednesday (May 23).
Westminster is losing almost $2 million in revenue, based on current fee rates. The state sets strict criteria for fees, said Chet Simmons, assistant to the city manager. Fees can cover the city’s costs but cannot exceed them.
But the proposed increases are too much at one time, said Mayor Margie Rice.
“I know we need the money, but I’m not going to gouge my people just to get it,” she said. “You have to move more slowly.”
Rice and councilmember Andy Quach voted for the proposal but only after several items were removed. But Mayor Pro Tem Tri Ta and councilmember Tyler Diep voted against it outright. Councilmember Frank Fry was not at the meeting.
The proposal would have raised fees on almost 150 services, ranging from fingerprinting for $12 to a final tract map check for $5,885. Many free services, such as a planning construction inspection or a traffic control plan check, would have had fees attached to them. Some fees are deposits that businesses can get all or part of back.
Westminster resident Tom Schaefer, a contractor, said the increases would hurt already suffering businesses. Schaefer said he’s doing only 10 percent of the volume of work since 2007.
Bryan Starr, CEO of the Building Industry Association of Southern California’s Orange County chapter, wrote a letter asking the council to vote no because of the continued economic downturn.
“Development fee increases would only exacerbate the problem facing our local economy,” he wrote.
Starr suggested decreasing or deferring fees could encourage development.