Victoria officials vote down public fee increases


• Discussed a partnership with the YMCA for pool facilities

• Approved granting $15,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to Habitat for Humanity for two lots in the Swan Crossing subdivision

• Appointed Vic Caldwell to the planning commission and Chris Rivera to the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corp.

Victoria officials voted down an ordinance Tuesday night that would have increased dozens of fees and fines to residents for using city services and facilities.

Councilman Jeff Bauknight led the action against what he called an "arbitrary increase" for false emergency calls, certain permits and inspections and rentals for public facilities.

"There's been nothing presented that says there's an increase in expense that needs to be met with an increase in income," Bauknight said.

His action passed in a 6-to-1 vote with Councilman Tom Halepaska voting in support of the increase.

When the issue was first brought up at the Dec. 3 council meeting, members raised questions about the parks department's proposal to charge a $500 cleaning deposit for special events at Riverside Park as well as $500 to host gated events at DeLeon Plaza, which would also have a $500 cleaning deposit.

Now, the fee increases will be included in the budget process.

Halepaska said Tuesday that he felt "like there was some justification when they were saying we need to adjust fees periodically ... based on the cost of service."

However, Bauknight continued the discussion, reminding the council of its vote two months ago on a balanced budget. Their costs were covered, he said.

"I don't dispute the need to adjust fees from time to time," Bauknight said. "I do disagree with the timing of this."

Mayor Paul Polasek voted in favor of Bauknight's proposal.

If a specific department needs to increase its fees or fines, Polasek said that issue could be revisited on an individual basis.

The police department proposed increasing the current $60 fine for false alarms to $100 for false burglar alarms and $125 for false fire alarms. It also decreased the number of false alarms allowed before penalty from eight to three.

The fire department proposed adjusting fees for permits at the fire marshal's office, and the city secretary proposed increasing pool hall permits to $25 from $15.

The Victoria City-County Health Department proposed increasing fees for animal control and food establishment permits.

Fees were also set to increase for the development services department for building permits, plat review fees and others such as banners for nonprofit organizations over Main Street, name occupancy changes and fees to appeal to any board of adjustments.

The Victoria Public Library proposed increasing fines for lost or damaged items.

Public Works proposed increasing fees for water consumed under a variance during a drought, increasing fees for new sewer services and the fees for large diameter taps on water mains as well as for installing and moving temporary fire hydrant meters.