COMPTON — A divided City Council voted last week to spend $95,000 in hiring an outside consulting firm to determine if the city should raise its user fees--charges that builders, contractors and others must pay to obtain construction permits.
The council voted 3 to 2 Tuesday to hire Management Services Institute of La Mirada to compare Compton's fees with what other area cities charge. The study also will examine what the city charges for parks and recreation services.
If Compton's fees are below what other cities charge, some council members said they would consider raising the rates in their continuing effort to bolster slumping budget revenues since losing nearly $2 million in annual federal aid.
"By investing $95,000 now, we can raise millions later," Mayor Walter R. Tucker told the council. Tucker chastised council members Jane D. Robbins and Maxcy D. Filer for voting against the plan, saying that the study was strongly recommended by the city's administrative staff.
Favors Study by Staff
Tucker, along with Councilmen Floyd A. James and Robert L. Adams, voted to hire the consultants.
Filer said he is not against performing a user fee study, but he argued that it was unnecessary to spend money hiring a consultant when the task could be carried out by the city staff.
"I have been up in the city manager's office and I haven't noticed people tripping over themselves with work," Filer said. He also said he was upset that no background information on Management Services Institute was provided to the council.
City Clerk Charles Davis told the council that he felt any study would be of little value because "political realities" will make it difficult for the council to pass any fee increase without drawing protests from businesses and residents.
Earlier this year, the council met heavy public resistance when it twice tried to increase the city's utility user taxes. And officials continue to study a proposal that would supplement budget revenues with money from a possible $40-million redevelopment bond.