By ABBY SOUZA
After two years of public hearings, board discussions and draft changes, Tuolumne County supervisors passed the GIGER fee increase yesterday.
The Growth in Government Expense and Revenues fees are charged to developers to pay for county services future homeowners will use, such as recreation and emergency responses.
The fees, which had not been updated in about a decade, will go from $1,723.84 per home in the Tuolumne County Fire Department Service District to $2,503. Homes outside the district mostly in unincorporated areas will go from $1,462.60 to $1,635.25 per house.
"To me, it's really astounding that the raise wasn't higher," Supervisor Dick Pland said.
The only issue to hold the board up yesterday was whether the GIGER fees should be readjusted every two years or, during the in-between years, a consumer price index calculation should be done.
The consumer price index takes the changes in retail prices of items, such as a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk, and compares them with prices of previous years. The change in prices helps government groups decide how much they should raise fees.
Pland said he did not like the idea of using the CPI and asked senior administrative analyst Daniel Richardson why the county can't just recalculate the fees every year.
"It would likely require a couple of weeks of staff time," Richardson said.
That seemed to satisfy Pland.
"If it takes that much time, I'm sorry I asked," Pland said.
But Chairman Mark Thornton said "two weeks to me, every two years, is a good investment."
Thornton said he wants to use the county's set of numbers every two years.
Supervisor Paolo Maffei said the county should use the CPI because it's used by many governmental agencies. Supervisor Jim Peterson also said using the CPI would best serve county residents.
Even though he didn't support using the CPI, Thornton voted with his fellow supervisors to use it when calculating the GIGER fee increase.