Supes OK new $35 fee for Placer County assessment appeals

Supervisors OK new charge on appeals, will rise to $40 in mid-2014
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Assessment appeals will now cost $35, under a new fee approved Tuesday by the Placer County Board of Supervisors. The fee will cover part of the processing costs associated with appeals and now handled by the Clerk of the Board?s office, Interim County Executive Officer Holly Heinzen said. The projected $105,000 in annual income from the fees will provide funding to hire another employee to work on appeals filings, she said. ?This will allow us to add a staff person to assist with processing,? Heinzen said. Supervisors voted 4-0 to approve the $35 fee, which takes effect July 2. An increase to $40 per appeal would be applied in mid-2014. A study by the county indicates that costs will still not be met by the fee. Clerk of the Board staff tracked their time to determine the average cost to process an application was $49.43. Supervisor Jack Duran voted with Chairwoman Jennifer Montgomery, Supervisor Robert Weygandt and Supervisor Jim Holmes to approve the new fee. Supervisor Kirk Uhler was absent from the meeting. Duran said that it made sense to him to offset costs with a fee. The full cost of processing is now being absorbed by general fund revenues. ?Something is better than nothing,? Duran said. Montgomery asked whether there were any implications for applicants already in the appeals process and was told there is not. In all, the county received 3,408 appeals in the 2010-11 fiscal year. That was down from 4,152 the year before. A report from the County Executive Office stated that Placer would be the 30th of 58 counties to institute an assessment appeal fee. Of the counties that have fees, the average per application is $37.30. The neighboring counties of El Dorado, Nevada and Sacramento have all adopted fees of $30 per application. Yuba County doesn?t have an appeal fee. In other board business: - County Counsel Anthony La Bouff was presented with a commendation marking his retirement. La Bouff has been with the county for 28 years and served as the chief counsel since 1995. - Supervisors approved a proposed budget of $690.1 million ? down from this year?s final budget of $749.3 million. - Susan Parisio of Glenn County used the public-comment period of the meeting to call on supervisors to require the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills to have a contract with Placer County to operate. - Marilyn Jasper, chair of the Public Interest Coalition and Sierra Club Placer Group, asked supervisors to institute a moratorium on approvals of community centers on agricultural land. Jasper said the groups aren?t opposed to community centers but current rules need to more clearly define their purpose and uses.