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Fees increase for fire prevention services

RANCHO SANTA FE — Fees for fire prevention services will jump beginning July 1 at the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District. The district board on May 15 approved increases for 51 of the fees the district charges for reviewing and inspecting fire prevention plans. Some of those fees will rise only nominally, but others will rise by nearly 50 percent.

The board also lowered three fees and added six new fees.

Most of the fees apply to construction projects that require approval from the fire district. For example, a residential remodel of more than 2,000 square feet would require a review of the plans to ensure they comply with the fire code and building code. The fee for that review is $266, up from $225.

The fees do not apply to typical firefighting or rescue operations.

Fire prevention service fees generated $126,110 in revenue for the fire district between July 2011 and June 2012, the most recent fiscal year for which figures are available, according to Fire Chief Tony Michel. That figure accounts for just more than 1 percent of the fire district’s total budget.

The fees are intended to recover only the costs the fire district incurs when people request development plan reviews, building inspections and other fire prevention services, Michel said.

“For a long time we were underestimating drastically what it would take to do what we were doing,” Michel said.

One factor contributing to the increased fees is what the fire officials consider a more accurate calculation of the time it takes inspectors to reach a location. Under the old ordinance, the fire district calculated an average of 15 minutes of staff time to travel to an inspection site, but the true average is closer to 30 minutes, Michel said.

The district last updated the fee structure in 2009.


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