County proposes fee for merchants selling tobacco

One-third of the stores that sold tobacco products in 2008 have stopped doing so, and the remaining tobacco merchants would have to pick up the tab to monitor them under a proposal going before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The number of outlets went from 78 to 58 in the unincorporated county — those areas not within a city limit.

The county pays staff members to regulate tobacco sales, and to make that program break even, stores that still sell the product should absorb a fee increase of $54, or 14 percent, according to Nikki Schmidt of the County Administrator’s Office. That would bring the cost to $394 per retail license.

Supervisors will introduce this and other proposed fees Tuesday, and hold a full hearing on them on Nov. 24.

County departments reviewed 3,191 fees. Department heads are recommending that 2,043 remain unchanged, 236 increase and 280 decrease. They want to introduce 51 new fees and drop 581.

Among the other changes suggested are:

There are thousands of other recommendations, ranging from hundreds of dollars down to the library late fee for children’s books, which would now be 15 cents a day up to $8.

The full proposed fee schedule can be viewed in a 314-page staff report on the county Web site.

In her message to supervisors, Schmidt wrote that fees help “offset the cost of providing county services to those who benefit from services that exceed basic tax-supported services.”

Money from fees and permits makes up approximately 11 percent of the county’s revenue, she wrote.

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