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City to raise park, sewer fees

March 22, 2012

Park patrons and business and property owners within the City of Bishop can expect certain fees and rates to rise this summer.
As part of a routine review process, the Public Works and Community Service departments are proposing raising various fees and charges as early as June 1.
Each year, all city departments are required to review fees and charges to determine if they cover the costs reasonably borne for providing service, City Administrator Keith Caldwell said at the March 12 City Council meeting.
In addition to holding a public hearing to gather input on the proposed rate hikes (no citizens came forward to make comment), the Council passed a motion to accept the first reading of an ordinance that will set the new fee structure in place as well as organize the Public Works Department’s list of charges and services into separate categories. A final motion to approve and accept the proposal is slated for the March 26 City Council meeting.
The city has historically kept rates low to allow more family participation in programs and allow more businesses to flourish, explained Caldwell’s Jan. 24 memo to City Council. However, the city can no longer afford to subsidize many public services and must therefore update fees and charges in order to continue to provide them.
“Our community children thrive partly because of service provided through the City of Bishop encouraging health and physical fitness,” Caldwell states in a Feb. 13 memo. “The Community Service Department continues to focus on the goal of providing these services at low costs,” he continues, however, “we are asking this year for an increase to help with continued rise in prices for the supplies needed for maintenance and care of pool and staff.”
Specifically, these rising prices represent the cost of propane, chemicals, equipment maintenance, staff training, and other operational costs.
As proposed, City Park swimming pool rental rates would increase from $25 plus cost of personnel to $50 plus cost of personnel. Excluding school pool parties, this would be an estimated $375 in additional revenues per fiscal year for the City of Bishop.
Youth swim passes would increase to $3 each and $25 for 10 passes. Adult swim passes would be $5 each and $20 for five swims. Lap swim passes would cost $5 each and season passes would be $120. Family passes would increase to 18 swims for $42. Even if the new fees are implemented, the city’s estimated revenue will only be $21,875. The city will have to cover the remaining $23,284 of expenses, explained Caldwell.
Although the pool will open May 1 for school swim team practice, swim parties and lap swim, fee increases will not go into effect until June 1 when the pool opens for public swim hours.
Other fee increases proposed by the city are set to take effect July 1.
Use of ball field lights is another amenity the city offers the public at heretofore-subsidized rates. It costs the city approximately $25.81 per hour for electricity, staff time and system maintenance. A report from the Community Services Department to the Bishop City Council states that increasing the rate for private parties for field light usage from $15 to $20 per hour does not exceed the cost to the city to provide this service.
The Public Works Department’s proposed updates will “substantially simplify the existing fee structure, better represent the actual costs involved, and result in an increased portion of general fund expenditures being offset by revenues” with regard to permits, planning and inspection charges, Public Works Director Dave Grah states in a Feb. 14 memo to the Council.
Increases will vary from specific fee to fee. “Fees we were collecting represented only a very small percentage of our actual cost. We’re in the red (and are) trying to get even or at least come closer. Our fees are for the most part far lower than those assessed by Inyo or Mono counties and by the state.”
Increases will affect fee categories such as negative declaration review and process, tentative parcel map review, tentative tract map review, final parcel map review, final tract map review, and lot line adjustment review.
Building fees will stay the same but will be streamlined so that they are easier to calculate and easier for customers to comprehend, explained Grah.
Water fees will not change. However, sewer fees will increase across the board, affecting all residences, businesses, non-profits, rental properties, and other organizations on the City of Bishop sewer system. For example, monthly sewer fees for a single-family residence will go from $25.96 to $27.58. Multiple-family residence rates will increase to $22.06.
These fee and charges increases are not spontaneous, according to the city. Extensive study has proceeded their proposal and the public has had notification all along the way. The Review and Implementation of New Fees and Service Charges timeline is as follows:
Feb. 13 – Public hearing for citizen input on proposed amendments
Feb. 15 – Public Works and Community Services revised memo deadline
March 1 – Notice of Public Hearing published in The Inyo Register
March 12 – Council meeting for second public hearing for first reading
March 26 – Council meeting for adoption of ordinance
June 1 – effective date to implement Park fees
July 1 – effective date to implement other fees

For more information, contact Bishop City Hall at (760) 873-5863 or visit www.ca-bishop.us.

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