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County Board of Supervisors approves new fees

POSTED April 26, 2011 9:30 p.m.

County residents have two new fees to worry about – for trench cut permits and tardy notification of property transfers from parents and grandparents to children – after a Board of Supervisors vote on Tuesday. The board also increased all fees charged by the Department of Public Works.

The Department of Public Works previously charged a $70 hourly fee for services, even though actual costs tallied $103 per hour. With the change, the hourly rate will rise to $80 per hour, then $90 per hour in 2012-2013 and eventually $100 per hour in 2013-2014.

Most Department of Public Works fees will increase modestly with the change, by about $20. An average permit would increase from $140 to $160.

A new fee will be added for utility trench cuts, at a cost of $7.30 per sq. ft. of trench area. The new fee was driven by studies showing such trench cuts reduce the life of pavement by 15 to 50 percent.

“This is an effort to collect revenues so we can overlay those roads on a more frequent basis,” said Matt Machado, County Public Works director.

Similar trench cut fees are charged by governments around the country, at an average cost of more than $10 per square foot.

The Assessor’s Office will also add a new fee, charging those who are tardy in reporting the transfer of property within families.

The office is usually tasked with reassessing property values upon change of ownership. But transfers of property between parents and children and grandparents and children are exempt from assessment, under state law.

In order to be exempt from the reassessment, though, a claim must be filed within a three-year period. This creates an issue for the assessor's department, which must complete its reassessment within a year of property being sold – oftentimes far before claims are filed – forcing the assessment to be reversed and causing a duplication of work.

The office sends out two notices upon transfer of property, but previously there was no penalty for not responding within 105 days. With the change, a $175 fee will be charged to those who file a late notification of intra-family property transfer – just slightly lower than the Assessor's Office $189 fee to process the fees.

The Assessor's Office expects to collect $5,250 per year with the new fee, which goes into effect July 1.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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