Board raises county fees for 2013, accepts gifts to county libraries

Fees for many Washington County services will increase next year under a fee schedule approved Tuesday by the Board of Commissioners.

The decision came one week after several county department heads outlined proposed free increases for items ranging from maps, county park campsites and shelters, developers’ lot plats and assessors’ fees to cities.

Although county residents will see numerous fee increases, officials said the major changes include increases in some Washington County Parks campsite and shelter fees; the Washington Public Works County Surveyor’s Office revamping fees for various sizes of county maps and increasing fees charged to developers for filing plats.

During a brief public hearing, Assistant County Administrator Kevin Corbid said state law lets the county set fees for services unless state law requires a fee. He added that fees can only recover a portion of the county’s costs related to direct staff, supply or indirect costs.

Commissioner Gary Kriesel said the county’s fees are designed to protect taxpayers from “subsidizing” some operations that might not directly impact taxpayers.

“I think the system has worked well and has benefited cities and the county,” added Commissioner Dennis Hegberg.

In other action Tuesday:

  •  Commissioners accepted donations to Washington County Library totaling $31,000. WCL Executive Director Patricia Conley said the donations $30,000 from the RAFT Foundation and $1,000 from the J.F. Rooney Family Charitable Foundation would be used to purchase materials for both children and adults, including electronic books.
  •  Met in a workshop to discuss a 2013 residential survey the county is participating in with Dakota, Olmstead and St. Louis counties.

About 1,500 Washington County residents will be mailed surveys February and March to provide feedback to county officials about how residents view county services.

Administration analyst Amanda Hollis said the survey is designed to provide “richer” comparative data officials will use to measure resident feedback. That data will be analyzed in the spring and final reports and presentations to the counties due in May or June.

  • Observed a moment of silence at the start of the meeting in memory of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting victims.

Tuesday’s meeting was the County Board’s last 2012 session. The board will not meet next Tuesday and Jan. 1 for the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day holidays. The board next meets at 9 a.m. Jan. 8 when returning Commissioners Gary Kriesel and Lisa Weik and newly elected Commissioners Fran Miron and Ted Bearth will be sworn in to their new terms and board officers elected.