Almanac

News - April 10, 2013

Menlo Park hikes fees for classes, facility rentals

by Sandy Brundage

Changes to Menlo Park fees for community services such as gymnastics classes, sports programs and facility rentals will add approximately $178,125 to the city's annual revenue.

The City Council voted 4-0 on April 2 to approve the increases and also added a new annual permit fee of $135 for food truck vendors.

Councilman Rich Cline asked the city staff how the city planned to enforce the food truck fees, given the mobility of the vehicles. The staff said that the city would likely conduct random inspections and respond to complaints.

A new $75 facility cleaning fee for spaces rented to accommodate more than 100 people and implementation of a 7 percent increase in phases for gymnastics classes appear to be part of an attempt by Menlo Park to leverage the new Arrillaga Family Recreation and Gymnastics centers for an estimated $66,000 in annual revenue.

Increases to various project fees, including heritage tree removal and traffic impact fee appeals, may be used in part to fund a mediation program as suggested by Vice Mayor Ray Mueller, who said he wanted a way for project applicants and residents to talk face to face about controversial projects without disagreements becoming "another world war."

One of the largest hikes — from $300 to $500 for storm water operations and management agreements — likely won't affect many residents. That fee is expected to cover staff time spent coordinating with applicants, attorneys and engineers, according to the report.

The Belle Haven program for school-age children saw a slight increase ranging from $20 to $40 a month, and eliminated a category of subsidized fees applicable to participants with incomes higher than the "extremely low income" category as defined by San Mateo County. According to city staff, 99 percent of the program participants qualify for the "extremely low income" subsidy by earning between $22,000 to $41,800 per year based on family size, so there was no point in establishing fees for those who make more.

While some increases took effect immediately, other fees will go up starting July 1, according to the staff.

Go to tinyurl.com/bqxp7tl to review the complete list of fee changes.

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