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Only one man spoke at the public hearing about fee increases in Citrus Heights. Here’s what he said.

Citrus Heights resident Ben Shell speaks during a public hearing on Dec. 12, 2019. // Image: Metro Cable 14

Sentinel staff report–
During a public hearing held Thursday night regarding a controversial fee increase in Citrus Heights, only one resident, Ben Shell, showed up to speak.

The City Council ultimately voted 4-0 in favor of a wide-ranging increase to many fees, but dropped the most controversial aspect of the proposal that would have tripled the cost of acquiring a water heater permit and other permits.

Shell’s transcribed two-and-a-half minute comments are included in their entirety below.

Hi, good evening. My name is Ben. I’m surprised to be the only speaker here for this topic, being that an awful lot of people on Facebook were quite upset about these fee increases.

I wanted to come out and share, for myself as a resident and homeowner in the city, my feelings on the matter.

Overall, I’d have to say you guys have been doing a great job in the city. I’ve lived here for about 10 years and it seems like things are continuing to improve and I’m proud to be a resident of Citrus Heights, so great work.

That said, something like this fee increase comes as quite a shock. This is not a gradual increase. This is not something that you’d expect.

We know our water rates are going to go up a little bit every year with the way that the water — you know, droughts — had been a crisis and things like that over the past few years; you kind of expect that. You don’t expect tripling the permit fees and things like that. That’s shocking and unexpected.

Quite frankly, I’m strongly against these increases. I’m glad to see that at least the base permit fee isn’t going to increase right away. That’s great news.

Related: Citrus Heights drops fee hike that would have tripled water heater permit cost

But overall, I would like to see a fee schedule that encourages development, it encourages homeowners to get permits. Any increases are going to discourage that.

I want to see something like, for example — a water heater replacement or sewer replacement — those are not even discretionary fees in most cases. In most cases those are mandatory. So really to have even any permit fee for something like that feels a bit regressive and a penalty to something that just broke. That’s not the kind of thing that you should even be charging a fee for in my opinion. Any increase there is I think really disappointing.

Ultimately, the question that I would ask, and I’ve spoken to some other people the last couple of days about this as well, some neighbors and others, is if the fees the city needs to recoup for some of these services are so high, then maybe we have too much regulation overall. I mean, some of these things shouldn’t cost so much money to recoup. That’s just my perspective on it.

Obviously your analysts have put a lot of work into figuring out where the actual costs are. But I would just ask that in the future you would ask your analysts to look into where costs can be cut — not just recouped, but where they can be cut. Because it seems like the focus is where can we recoup the costs, not how can we cut our costs. And that’s what I would like you to focus on.

I think that’s all I have to share. I thank you for your time.

*Editor’s note: For additional context, see prior story: Citrus Heights to consider doubling, tripling certain fees

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