Executive Withdraws Measure To Raise Licensing Fees

Legislation Lacked Council Support

March 04, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff writer

Facing a lack of County Council support, County Executive Robert R. Neall withdrew legislation Monday that would have raised licensing fees for plumbers, electricians and other tradesmen.

However, workmen and others required to pay for county licenses and permits can expect fees to go up eventually.

Neall plans to study all 375 fees imposed by the county, with an eye toward increases, in keeping with the recommendations made last month by the Property Tax Study Commission, said Myron V. Wotring, Neall's legislative liaison.

Wotring said that fees for just about everything -- admission to county parks, sponsoring a carnival, obtaining a permit for hawking jewelry at a flea market -- will be reviewed by a committee Neall is setting up.

Wotring said the committee probably will include a representative from the county auditor's office and will make its recommendations on new fees before Neall introduceshis 1993 budget May 1.

Neall decided Monday to withdraw a bill introduced last month that would have raised $250,000 by increasing fees for the county's 5,200 licensed electricians, plumbers, gas fittersand mechanics. The measure would have raised annual license fees from the current $12.50 a year to $50.

"Possibly the best route to goon this is to sit down and look at the whole issue comprehensively,"Wotring said Monday night.

Wotring acknowledged that Neall withdrew the measure because he did not have enough votes on the County Council to pass it.

"I understand that a majority of the council views Bill 14-92 as piecemeal legislation and therefore is not prepared to increase any fees without a comprehensive review and revision of all 375 fees imposed by the 28 county departments," Neall wrote to the council when seeking the bill's withdrawal Monday.

But Wotring said Neall also withdrew it in light of recommendations by the tax studycommission, chaired by state Sen. John A. Cade. The commission was set up to look at the increasing burden carried by property taxpayers.

The 16-member group recommended that Neall slash up to $50 million in property taxes by increasing other revenue, such as the piggyback income tax. The committee said that whenever possible, fees should cover 80 percent of the administrative and regulatory costs involved in providing a service, such as oversight of plumbers and electricians.

In a related move last night, Councilwoman Maureen Lamb introduced a resolution Monday night asking Neall to confer with the councilbefore proposing any revenue increases recommended in the tax study report.

Lamb said the resolution is meant to keep the council informed and to ensure any fee increases are "looked at comprehensively" before being proposed as legislation.

"I find no fault with the county executive, but I want to have plenty of time, and I want to lookat things in terms of the total revenue picture, not to do it piecemeal," she said.

In other action Monday:

* The council passed a resolution, 6-0, asking the school board to appoint a member of the armed forces as an adviser to the school board. The adviser is intended to help the 12,500 military dependents in the schools if, for example, their parents are put on alert for combat or sent overseas, said council chairman David Boschert, the resolution's sponsor.

* Boschert also introduced an ordinance to require restaurants, taverns, theaters, health clubs, county offices and other public gathering placesto purchase two resuscitation masks to enable people to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation without mouth-to-mouth contact. The measure is modeled after a New York City law and is intended to prevent fear of infectious diseases when administering CPR to strangers.

* Councilwoman Diane Evans introduced a resolution directing county planners to encourage state and federal officials to locate commercial and industrial facilities in appropriate areas and inform communities about such plans. The measure comes after plans for a court building and a post office facility upset communities in Parole and Pasadena, respectively.

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