Health Officer Proposes Fee Changes
Health Officer Mark Colicchio presented a slew of fee increases and new charges Monday to the City Council, saying the hikes were the first in 15 years.
Colicchio said he followed up on city studies on fees with one of his own, comparing current charges to those in other municipalities.
"I was able to come up with these fees that I feel are more than fair," he said.
Birth, death and marriage certificates would rise from $5 to $25, among other increases. Dog and cat licenses, now $8.20 to $11.20, would be $20.
Food establishment without seating would see fees based on square footage increase by around 60 percent, while some of those with seats would face double or triple the current fee.
On Tuesday, the sunny yellow bench seats at Chicken Holiday were nearly empty. Business is down, owner Luis Chacon said, and the people who do come in tend to take out their food. Looking at figures that would translate the $150 fee for his 68 seats to $450, he said, "How can they increase all those fees?"
With people cutting back on take-out meals and the price of supplies going up - a case of wings that was $42 is now $78, he said - the squeeze is on and a fee increase would hurt.
At a popular longtime downtown luncheonette, an owner viewed fee increases as maybe the last straw for doing business here, when coupled with rent increases and utility rate hikes.
Among other proposed additions to the present fee schedule, self-service laundries would be charged $20 for each washer and dryer. The owner of a laundry at Park & Seventh was not present Tuesday, but the possible new tab for 44 washers and 43 dryers was enough to raise an employee's eyebrows.
Another change would increase the charge for a Health Division reinspection for "conditionally satisfactory or unsatisfactory" establishments from $40 to $100 for the first reinspection, escalating to $200 for a second and $500 for a third.
The proposed ordinance will be on the agenda next week. The council will meet at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19 in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. The public may speak at the beginning of the meeting on resolutions and ordinances before the council votes on them.
Click here to see the full ordinance.
If the fee changes pass on first reading, the ordinance could be up for second reading and final passage at the regular City Council meeting on Feb. 8.