A nine-month study on the actual costs of many city services will be reviewed at a special City Council meeting today at 6 p.m..
The study found that the city does not charge the true cost of most services. For example, a special events permit, for which the city charges $100 for a nine-day event or $35 for a three-day event, actually costs the city $234 to process.
The $40,000 study is expected to be an important policy tool in setting the cost of building permits, inspections, and other services.
Though the council received the study in October, it has yet to tell the city staff whether to change fees. City Manager Terry S. Matz said he expects the council to make a decision after tonight's meeting at City Hall.
A council discussion of the city's financial status will be held at 4 p.m.
The study, conducted by Management Services Institute Inc. of Anaheim, used interviews with city staff members and an examination of the budget and records to determine the full cost of city services. The study takes into account labor, employee benefits, materials, overhead and depreciation of property in calculating costs.
Processing of special events permits, for example, has been calculated to cost the city $134 in salary, $37 in benefits, and $20 in overhead, plus other expenses.
The Miss Stanton Pageant has been determined to cost the city $13,534. Garage sale permits, cost $5. The study says it costs the city $96.04 to process each one.
Matz said services like the special events permits are being subsidized by taxpayers. On the other hand, some city services, like fire and police protection, benefit all residents, Matz said. "The decision of what, if any, services to subsidize is with the council," he said.
Council members are not jumping to raise fees. "I think the study is a hell of an idea, but we haven't gone through it thoroughly," Councilman William H. Horton said.
Mayor Pro Tem Joe V. Harris noted that there are political considerations to raising fees. But he said that if the study "shows what something costs, then I'm going to seriously consider charging it."
"The thing of it is, we're broke," Horton said.
"We cannot continue to give away services," added Harris.
Council members say they want to run the city like a business, charging residents precisely what the services cost. But in September, the council agreed to create the $35 special events fee, even though Matz told the council that the study had determined a much higher cost. Council members said at the time they wanted to give struggling businesses a break.