This week Mono County Supervisor Larry Johnston threw his fellow Board members another curve ball by requesting that the Board review and discuss a 10 percent County fee decrease.
While the agenda stated it would save taxpayers up to $430,000, Johnston clarified on Tuesday that it would be more like “a $300,000 reduction to taxpayers.”
“It would not be a cost to the county because of the savings we have obtained from consolidation,” Johnston explained. The county has been consolidating many of its staff positions in an effort to stay fiscally sound.
“We should pass this savings on to the taxpayers and reduce County fees by 10 percent, excluding enterprise fees and state set fees [which the County has no control over],” he continued.
After his brief description, Johnston moved to approve this reduction and Supervisor Tim Hansen seconded.
Noting that making the motion so soon was a bit out of order, “I would have liked discussion before a motion,” Board Chair Vikki Bauer then moved the body into discussion.
Helen Nunn, representing local 39, the majority representative of Mono County Public Employees, requested that rather than reducing fees, the money saved from consolidation should be used to offset any budget imbalances in the future. She also requested that if fees were to be reduced that they be reviewed one by one rather than just a blanket reduction of all fees.
“Some fees are not even paid by county residents,” Nunn pointed out.
Mono County Finance Director Brian Muir agreed that each fee should be looked at individually.
“Not all fees are created equally,” Muir said. “A lot of fees are going down anyway.”
Bauer pointed out that the Board does review the fees each year anyway, and that the discussion should be held at the appropriate time.
Supervisor Hansen, however, was very much in favor of the idea.
“Is it a gift to the people?” he asked rhetorically. “Yes it is. It doesn’t mean that fees haven’t been kept equitable, it’s just a benefit to the people.”
“It’s a question of efficiency when providing services,” weighed in Supervisor Byng Hunt. “We should be efficient and save money. It’s not prudent to just drop fees across the board. It’s dangerous to give up our savings not knowing what type of emergency needs we’ll have in the next few years.”
Hunt was against dropping the fees at this time.
Bauer agreed and stated again that she would be open to discussing lowering or not increasing fees when the topic came before the Board in its usual fashion.
“This is an incomplete effort,” she criticized.
Supervisor Hap Hazard was also uncomfortable using the county’s savings at this time.
“Giving money to people who are using the [county] services, not just taxpayers, while holding employee salaries frozen doesn’t sit well with me,” Hazard said. “I would be more supportive of spreading it out across property taxpayers instead.”
CAO Jim Arkens stated that he was scared by the fee reduction proposal.
“The savings [from consolidation] were used to balance last year’s budget,” he explained. “I don’t know what it [budget] looks like now.”
The motion to support the fee reduction failed with a 2-3 vote. Only Johnston and Hansen voted in favor.
Share Email This Post