New Fees On Council Agenda
The agenda for Tuesday's Costa Mesa City Council meeting is now available for viewing, HERE. It's full of stuff that could generate some significant resident interest - if they're paying attention.
THREE NEW FIRE DEPARTMENT "REVENUE SOURCES"
For example, there are three items submitted by the Fire Department that are revenue-generators at a time when we certainly do need new sources of income. However, each of these items reach directly into the pockets of Costa Mesa residents for "fees" at a time when most can probably not afford them.
Emergency Medical Services - This fee, which will now charge residents and non-residents alike, is supposed to generate $543,900 in additional revenue to the city by charging fees for services provided when a person receives medical attention and is transported by an ambulance. Currently, residents don't pay these fees. This fee is kind of like picking your pocket as you lay bloodied and battered on the gurney.
Fire Department Fire Prevention Fees - These fees, to be assessed against businesses who receive fire prevention visits by members of the Fire Department, are supposed to generate an additional $500,000 in revenue to the city. Theoretically, these fees will represent 100% cost recovery for providing these services - which businesses don't have an option to accept or decline. The firefighters just wander in, check out your business, then send you a bill.
Fire Department Costs Recovery Program - These nifty new fees will supposedly generate more than $180,000 in new revenues for the city. They cover the costs of responding to an automobile accident within our city and could really mount up if, for example, the scene of the accident isn't promptly cleared by the police in attendance. They are based in great part by the kind of vehicle that responds, and are charged for increments of an hour, with 15 minutes being the shortest time. The proposal says we will contract with an outfit called EF Recovery, who has apparently convinced our staff that, for 14% of the fees collected, can recover 98.5% of such insured fees. I went to the web site for this company and there is absolutely nothing there that indicates they are even in this business. On their site they appear to be marketers of consumables used at accident sites and otherwise by public safety organizations. It makes me curious about their claim of 98.5% success rate when they don't even mention being in this business on their site.
NEW "FEES" TOTAL $1.2 MILLION
So, these new ordinances - with which the Fire Department will stick their hands directly into the pockets of residents - are projected to generate around $1.2 million in additional revenues for the city beginning July 1, 2009.
REMEMBER LAST YEAR?...
Last July 15th, during their deliberations of the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and Business License Fees, the city council decided to "receive and file" the proposal to put those two items on the ballot for the residents to consider. As a result, we missed the boat for another two years before either item can be considered again. The short-sighted council missed the chance to increase the TOT by a couple points - which would still have left Costa Mesa among the lowest in the state - and thereby probably cost us an estimated $2 million in increased revenue. Had the voters approved that modest change we would not be looking at having our pockets picked with these new fees. The TOT affects only visitors to our city, not the residents. And, there was no one from the hospitality community that spoke against a possible increase in the TOT last year.
BUSINESS LICENSE FEES
Our Business License Fees are laughably low. As councilwoman Katrina Foley mentioned during a recent meeting, her small law firm in Newport Beach pays more for it's business license than Nordstrom does at South Coast Plaza! Even a modest adjustment to those fees would have generated significant increases in revenue for our city. Again, no one from the business community spoke on this subject last year.
LAME (BRAIN) LEADERS TO BLAME
So, once again the narrow-minded, lame-brained knee-jerk majority on the city council has demonstrated clearly why it's important to elect people to the council that have more than half a brain between them. By digging in their heels in their anti-tax posture they have caused great harm to the residents of our city.
MORE FUN ON THE AGENDA
Also coming before the council Tuesday are some items that generated a lot of interest within the community. It will be interesting to see who shows up Tuesday to speak on them this time around. Those items are:
Off-street Parking Standards
Residential Driveway Widths
Modifications to our Fireworks Ordinance making offenses administrative citations
The bogus and inconsequential 5% pay reduction for the city council members - which cannot take effect until after the 2010 elections.
I wonder how many passionate residents will show up Tuesday night to discuss these issues.