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The Nuts and Bolts of Getting Your Fees Approved

So, you’ve just spent the last number of months developing a Cost of Services Study with recommendations to update your fees, and now you’re wondering how I get these adopted. In a future article we’ll talk about how to present these recommendations to your Council, but today we’ll talk about the nuts and bolts of adoption to make sure that your process meets the legal requirements.

What are the noticing requirements?

Government Code section 66016(a) says that notification of the public hearing in which the fees are going to be adopted be mailed to any party asking in writing for such a notification. Then, 10 days before the hearing the cost detail behind the proposed fees be made available to the public.

So, what does this really mean? You should be keeping a list of all those who have requested to be notified over the previous year. The notice itself should include a notice of the time and place of the meeting, a general explanation, and a statement that the required data is available. Then, at least 10 days before the meeting you should post the report with the cost data on your website. The 14-day and 10- day requirements are for before the public hearing in which the Council is being asked to approve the fees. It is not required for a presentation of the report in which the Council is not being asked to adopt the fees. But really, you should put the report on your webpage as soon as you first bring it to your Council, even if that meeting is not the adoption hearing.

Ordinance or Resolution?

Government Code section 66016(b) says that fees shall be adopted by ordinance or resolution. It is up to you in most cases. But since a resolution requires only one public hearing, most agencies adopt their fees by resolution.

Do I have to wait 60 days to implement the adopted fees?

Government Code section 66017(a) says that fees adopted under this section shall be effective no sooner than 60 days following the adoption. But the fees adopted by this section are for the fees on a development project, which for the most part are Planning fees. These rules don’t apply to all your other fees, and for the most part, there are no codified rules to adopt those fees.

Wait, what?

That’s right, most non-development fees don’t have to follow the rules listed above and once adopted can go into place immediately. But most agencies would rather not have two implementation dates, and they just wait 60 days to start using all the fees. Actually, the waiting period is a good opportunity to get all the new fees into your permit and payment systems and do a quick fee audit.

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