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Budget Shortfall Forces Increase in Fees

August 06, 1992|G. JEANETTE AVENT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BEVERLY HILLS — The charge for reviewing the location of a planned tennis court in Beverly Hills took a big leap this week, while other city fees for using athletic fields increased modestly.

Until now, the city had charged nothing to review a tennis court location. During its meeting Tuesday, the City Council approved a fee of $5,180 to be phased in over a four-year period. The fee this year will be $1,295 and increase by $1,295 each year.

Some park and recreation fees were also increased. The hourly fee charged for the use of park grounds will rise from $17.50 to $18 for nonprofit groups of less than 50 residents. Fees for non-resident nonprofit groups will rise from $23.50 to $28.

The hourly charge for residents to use city athletic fields during the day rose from $11.50 to $16 for nonprofit groups and $23.50 to $34 for private residents.

The fee increases were approved as part of the city's annual review of its service charges. When fully implemented in four years, the new fees will increase revenues by about $98,000, City Manager Mark Scott said.

The Planning Department had proposed fee increases equal to a 43% overall hike, but this week the city staff backed away from some of the increases, asking for more modest increases or phasing in the increases over a four-year period.

For example, a single-family development review will rise from $981.45 to $1,243 as planned. But the cost of a zoning variance application will rise from $981.45 to $2,738 over a four-year period.

The fee changes were the result of budget shortfalls. Last year the city had to cut $9 million from its proposed budget, freeze city employee salaries and leave vacant positions unfilled. And this year, faced with a continuing decline in sales revenue because of the recession, the City Council adopted a $75-million budget for 1992-93, slightly smaller than last year's.

In the past the city raised fees annually based on the rise in the consumer price index. But the council wanted the services re-evaluated to see what the city's costs were in providing each service and how much of the cost should be paid by the city through taxes and how much should be borne by the users.

Revenues from current planning fees total just under $230,000, while the cost of the services are just over $1 million, Scott said. When the fees are fully implemented in four years, they will garner an additional $98,000 annually.

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