Some Permit, Inspection Fees Eyed For Increase In Riverside County

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RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA — The Board of Supervisors Tuesday set a June 4 public hearing to consider a series of proposed increases to fees for permits issued by the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health, whose director pointed out the hikes being sought are not based solely on inflationary pressures.

“We’re not using only the consumer price index model,” agency Director Jeff Johnson told the board. “We’re looking at the costs and assignments on our end … (which are) variable across different aspects of what we regulate.”

Johnson emphasized the department did not seek any fee adjustments for the current fiscal year and is now seeking to offset expenses that have grown beyond what the agency can absorb and stay within budget.

“We go back and analyze what we do. We ask if we can do some things better, create efficiencies,” he said. “That’s why I didn’t come here last year and ask for a CPI adjustment. We’ve had to absorb costs internally, but we’re a lean machine.”

The permit and inspection fees the department is seeking to increase cover a broad regulatory scheme, from food facilities to farm stands, and swimming pools to septic tanks. (Courtesy of Tim Lee)

Supervisor Kevin Jeffries applauded the efficiency goal, saying he has never liked going along with other board members in applying a “rubber stamp and not ask what’s driving increases.”

“Anything that leads us to a process where we can see where the revenue challenges and the shortfalls are … is a benefit,” Jeffries said.

The permit and inspection fees the department is seeking to increase cover a broad regulatory scheme, from food facilities to farm stands, and swimming pools to septic tanks.

Among the higher fees slated for an increase is the permit for a community temporary event. The greater the number of vendors, the bigger the cost for a Department of Environmental Health review. A permit for an event featuring 26 to 30 vendors would go from $3,644 to $3,863, while an event with 56 to 60 vendors would rise from $7,202 to $7,634.

A catering permit would go from $527 to $563, while a produce stand permit would only rise $9 to $398.

The cost of a permit to sell unpackaged edibles from a mobile food facility would increase from $589 to $624, and to host a certified farmers market, a $543 fee would be required for a permit, compared to $522 currently.

The cost of a permit for installation of an underground storage tank would jump from $1,328 to $1,380, and the fee for closing an underground system would go from $944 to $962.

Among the smallest increases was for food handler certification, which is a $27 fee. It would bump up to $28 under the proposed amendments.

A few fees would be left unchanged, including the $140 inspection fee for a mobile home park and the 10-cent per page cost of clerical records supplied by the department.

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