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Pima supervisors OK higher health, animal care fees to offset budget gap

Citizen Staff Writer



The Pima County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to increase fees for general health care, family planning, immunization and animal care programs, but delayed raising restaurant permit fees.

The combined fee increases will provide an additional $1.1 million for the Pima County Health Department, which provides the services.

The increases also will help offset an almost $2 million budget decrease for the department, which is the only governmental entity providing public health services in the county.

The department budget will decline from the current $27.2 million to about $25.3 million for fiscal year 2009-10, which starts July 1, officials have said.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry defended the fee increases as necessary to help offset the pending department budget cut while still providing services to the public.

“They are cost recovery,” Huckelberry said. “They are not supplanting general funds.”

About 68 percent of the department’s annual costs come from government grants and fees charged to the public for the services they use.

The increases range from about 10 percent to 30 percent, depending on the services.

For example: The fee for pregnancy testing will go from $2 to $3 and HIV testing will rise from $15 to $20.

Also, children’s immunizations will remain at $15 for one child, but increase from $15 to $25 for two to four children, and go to $35 for five or more children.

Fees for animal adoption, spaying and neutering, impoundment fines, veterinary treatment, microchipping and licenses also were increased by the supervisors Tuesday.

For example, licensing fees for altered dogs will go from $12 to $15; and licenses for unaltered dogs will increase from $50 to $60.

The supervisors agreed to not raise the fees charged for euthanasia and animal pickup after hearing that some low-income families may not have the financial means to put down a family pet to halt its suffering.

The supervisors held off on increases permit fees for restaurants, public lodging, and ice and bottling plants at the request of a restaurant industry representative who said those businesses did not have adequate notice of the changes.

“Pima County’s restaurants are having a difficult time as it is,” Sherry Gillespie, spokeswoman for the Arizona Restaurants Association, told the supervisors. “For all intents and purposes, this is an operating tax.”

Increases for Consumer Health and Food Safety programs have not occurred since 2000.

Pima supervisors OK higher health, animal care fees to offset budget gap

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