2-11-15 – House Ways & Means Passes $2.8 Million in Fee Increases 

Posted by Rob Roper

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The House Ways & Means Committee is ready to saddle Vermonters with $2.8 million in fee increases (H.184). However, opponents on the committee suspect fees are being improperly increased to raise general revenue. In other words, this is an unfair $2.8 million cost-shift onto local businesses, particularly the restaurant and lodging industry.

(Note: This bill does not include fees having to do with water quality issues which will be the subject of a separate bill, H.35.)

Rep. Patti Komline (R-Dorset) pointed out that there are thirty-five fees in the bill that have gone up by more than 50% over the past three years. How can those rates of increase be justified?

Quoting legislative council, Komline read the legal definition of a fee: “A monetary charge by agency or judiciary for a service or product provided to for the regulation of specified classifications of individuals or entities.” A fee is supposed to be raised to fund a specific thing, and should not be raised beyond what’s necessary to fund that specific thing.

Rep. Adam Greshin (I-Warren) made no bones about it. The approach of the Shumlin Administration and this bill “is to shift the cost from the general fund to the backs of the local restaurants (up 50-100%), to the local lodging properties… their fees are going to be going up 50 to 100%. To shift it to the local developers….” He pointed to a 23% increase in act 250 permit fees.

“This is incredibly anti-business,” concluded Greshin.

Rep. Ron Hubert is the owner/operator of a small, general store in Milton. “A lot of people don’t realize that in my little small business, I have eleven licenses. And, I have four different people come in and do inspections. I see them once a year for fifteen to twenty-five minutes. When you’re talking about a license going from $85 to $255, you’re going to tell me that it costs any agency… $255 to come in and do that inspection?”

“Small businesses and family businesses,” said Hubert, “have nothing left to cut. Any of these fees come directly out of these people’s private pockets.”

The bill now moves on to the full House of Representatives.


 

RELATED DOCUMENTS:

Joint Fiscal Office “Fiscal Notes” on H.184 as passed House Ways & Means

Spreadsheet of Fees

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail Graham February 12, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Well-I had been concerned about this when I saw it on the HW&M agenda, since the Chair, Ms. Ancel, is my Rep. Many of you know how I feel about that. It doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to figure out why Shummy and Shap want her in that position. Don’t ask me to even try to talk with her, as I’m one of the last people she will even give the time of day. She avoids constituents like me like the plague.

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Jim Bulmer February 13, 2015 at 10:52 pm

Gail get your buddies together and throw her out. As for “fees”, these guys don’t have the guts to use the “tax” word. Kidd yourself not, that’s exactly what they are. The raising of “fees” is a prime example of what happens when there is the imposition of “modest” fees. Once the camel’s head is in the tent, LOOK OUT!!!

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John February 14, 2015 at 12:37 am

Arizona…warmer, cheaper and more opportunities for someone who fixes aircraft for a living. Oh yeah, I’ll make more per hour and pay less to live so I guess I’d win!

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