Grand County commissioners approve departmental fee increases
Grand County’s Commissioners held a public hearing Tuesday afternoon to discuss multiple proposed fee changes to several departments within the county pertaining to four departments within the county: the clerk and recorder, sheriff, EMS and the building department.
Grand County Clerk and Recorder Sara Rosen presented several proposed fee increases broken down into three specific areas, recording, motor vehicle, and driver’s license.
Rosen has proposed increasing the county’s copy convenience fee from 25 cents to $1 per document and is also recommending the County charge a $100 annual fee for online access to the county’s archives of public documents. Currently the county charges no fee for online access to those documents. The $1 copy convenience fee would apply only to documents the Clerk’s office locates, prepares and sends to citizens. Copied documents that are located by citizens would continue to be subject to the 25 cent fee.
She has also is seeking to add a $10 convenience fee to both the issuance of driver’s licenses and conducting of driver’s tests. Rosen stated approximately 30 percent of driving tests conducted by the county are for out-of-county individuals, who come to Grand County for reasons of convenience.
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The Commissioners had varying stances on the proposal from Rosen. Commissioner Kris Manguso expressed her opposition to all the proposed fee increases, while Commissioners Merrit Linke and Rich Cimino. Linke opposed the $1 copy convenience fee on the grounds that the $1 fee would not be high enough to cover staff costs related to the work. Linke moved to change the copy fee to $5, while maintaining the other fee schedules as proposed by Rosen. The proposed fee changes were approved with Linke and Cimino voting in favor and Manguso voting against.
Sheriff Brett Schroetlin addressed the Commissioners regarding proposed fee increases for his department. Along with increasing off duty security contracting rates, notarization fees, fees for Sheriff’s Sale publications, Schroetlin sought approve of an increase in the fee assessed for writs, from $100 to $200. The Sheriff’s office is also seeking to increase the useful public service fee from $100 to $120. The Commissioners approved all fee changes requested by the Sheriff unanimously.
Grand County EMS Chief Ray Jennings also addressed the Commissioners with a collection of fee increases for services provided by the EMS, ranging from specialty care transport fee, to the discount county residents receive for services rendered. Most of the fees increases were proposed to increase roughly 9.9 percent above existing levels.
“The reason we are bringing the fee increase to you is we continue to see a decrease in what Medicare or Medicaid pays,” Jennings said. “Medicaid pays about 10 percent of the bill. Medicare has an average of about 25 percent of the bill.”
Jennings also highlighted the unique nature of EMS services.
“We are one of the few service where no matter how many times you call us, we will come, whether or not you pay or do not pay your bill,” Jennings said. “That cost has to be captured and recuperated from somewhere. These are what we call user fees. If you use the service you get billed. If you don’t use the service you don’t get billed.”
The fee increases were approved by the Commissioners with some minor adjustments, to ensure the new fee schedule contained mostly whole numbers. For example the fee for an additional EMT was initially proposed as increasing from $100 to $109.90, but was changed to $110 before final approval.
Additionally several fees for the Grand County Building Department were increased. Community Development Director Tom Leatherwood addressed the Commissioners about the increases in fees. The Building Department proposed the county adopt the same fee schedule and valuation formula employed by Winter Park’s building department, which serves as the building department for several towns in Grand County including Granby.
The proposal by the building department actually sought to lower the cost of building permit fees but also included the creation of a new fee, called a plan review fee, which made up for the loss of revenue from lower building permit fees. A chart provided by Leatherwood showed the percentage of increased total fee costs as varying depending on the size of the building in question and ranged anywhere from a 43 percent increase on a 1,300 square foot building to 35 percent on a 2,200 square foot building.
Representatives of the Grand County Builders Association were on hand for the meeting and expressed their support for the fee increases. Commissioner Manguso expressed her opposition to the proposal.
“I will just say a 65 percent increase is really hard for me to stomach,” Manguso said. “We talk affordable housing and we continue to raise fees on these people. I would be way more in favor or ratcheting this over a two to three year period instead of such a huge increase. I know the builders, you guys are behind it, but you guys also know what your people pay.”
The proposed fee increase was approved with Commissioners Cimino and Linke voting in favor and Manguso voting against. The departments within the county are still working to determine when the approved fee increases will go into effect.
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