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Another shifty plan passes muster

September 04, 2003

DANETTE GOULET

It's official. City fees have gone up by $2.6 million -- but I'll be

darned if I can tell you exactly which fees went up and by how much.

And I highly doubt the council members who passed the new fee

schedule could, either.

There are multiple lists, of multiple studies and fee scales,

which council members were supposed to mix and match to figure out

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which fees were being hiked. It's no wonder most of them let it go by

without questions. It's appalling that they approved it, since the

city cannot provide a list of which fees are going up.

I should note that Councilman Dave Sullivan refused to vote for

that very reason. Bravo, Dave.

And Councilwoman Jill Hardy, math and economics teacher that she

is, put in the labor that the city didn't and charted things out for

herself. Kudos to you as well, Jill. Could you hold a class down at

City Hall?

This is a prime example of how this city does things. Would it be

so difficult to compile one chart with what the fees are and what the

new fees would be?

Financial officers at the city can't even tell you how much the

city brings in from fees and how much that will change.

This is may be the best possible solution to bad fiscal times, to

give them the benefit of the doubt. But the way the city goes about

these things always seems fishy, like they're trying to hide

something.

It's like that bogus city budget survey all over again.

How about just a list of which fees are going up?

"Nope, sorry, we don't have that," the city people tell us.

OK, we'll just trust you then.

Some fees could definitely stand to go up. Others are already

outrageous.

I took tennis lessons a couple years ago, and it was something

ridiculously low, like $32 for six weeks of lessons. Sure, it was

great for me, especially since there was little hope for me as a

tennis player, but I would have easily paid double that without

feeling ripped off. At $269 an hour for a fire truck response,

however, I will try the garden hose on a blaze first.

But the point is not whether the taxpayer is being gouged or not,

it's that we don't even know because there is a hidden formula to

figuring out what the new fees are.

Assuming the city folk who put the new fee schedule together

understand their plan, they need to make a user-friendly version for

the rest of us. And the council shouldn't have passed it if they

can't tell you exactly which fees went up by how much.

* DANETTE GOULET is the city editor. She can be reached at (714)

965-7170 or by e-mail at danette.goulet@latimes.com.

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