The Winters City Council approved proposed fee increases for a number of city-provided services at its May 2 meeting.
City Manager Kathleen Trepa laid out the affected fees, scheduled A–F, and how much each will increase. Schedules A–building permits fees, B–planning fees, D–Police, E–Fire, and F–recreation, will be increased by 6.5 percent, while Schedule C–Engineering and Public Works, will increase by 5.3 percent.
Regarding the history of this change, in 2017 the city contracted Matrix Consulting to analyze the city’s fees, coming back with,“a comprehensive study of user fees, and these are fees that are used to cover the cost of Winters’ staff providing services to either applicants or the community.”
“According to previous council action and authorization,” Trepa explained. “Most of these fees we recommend are updated annually, and that would be updated using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all consumers from December to December, year over year. So the year-over-year change for CPI was 6.5 percent, and that 6.5 percent has been applied to the majority of fees from Schedules A, B, D, E, and F.”
Regarding Schedule C, Trepa said that fee was updated “using the annual Engineering News Record Construction Cost Index for the San Francisco area…and those are tied to the construction industry, and that adjustment for December to December was 5.3 percent.”
Trepa also noted that swim fees are adjusted by SASO, and are not subject to any changes by the city.
“Probably the biggest change that we’re recommending this evening,” Trepa continued, “is to convert the Planning fees from a fixed fee to a deposit-based fee, which is how we manage the services related to engineering services, and that’s because, for the larger permits and applications that are submitted, the amount of time the Senior Planner spends on those can vary wildly…and so to better capture costs that more accurately represent the work…we’re recommending that most of the Planning fees be converted to a deposit based system.”
Council members sought clarification on some of the details of the fees, including the addition of a Trestle bridge fee for the private use of the bridge.
Mayor Bill Biasi commented, “As much as I hate to see our fees go up, I think it’s a necessary evil, because as we’ve seen inflation is up, costs for everybody are up, including costs for the city that we have to incur…I think it’s unfortunately appropriate to do it.”
Following this, the council members approved the update to city fees unanimously.
The extensive list of the 2023 fee schedule update can be viewed online at https://tinyurl.com/p75zv4f9.