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City out of line with proposed fees

Just wondering what city officials are thinking when they want to add $40,000 to $50,000 in plan-check and permit fees to the cost of a project that a nonprofit organization is willing to pay for?

We’ve heard this tale from more than one group — this time La Jolla Youth Inc. The group’s members have raised more than half of the $125,000 to get the project done. Part of that money ($50,000) is from a city lease for a cell phone tower that was dedicated to renovating the restrooms and snack bar at Cliffridge Park. The conditions have become so deplorable that the city brought in portable facilities when a resident complained. (See Mark Bucon’s Community View on page A17.)

Finding out about the added cost now is particularly frustrating since this group has been pushing for this for six years. It’s also frustrating because the condition of public park facilities, be it restrooms or playing fields, should be the city’s responsibility. Isn’t that why leagues pay user fees?

We know the city of San Diego is facing financial challenges. Mayor Jerry Sanders said in presenting the most recent plan to cope with the 2011 budget “San Diego’s most pressing problem is its structural deficit — the imbalance between the cost of services the public currently receives from their city and the revenues that sustain it.”

But when La Jollans are willing to go the extra step to accomplish projects that benefit the community, why must they foot a bill that’s almost as much as the salary for one Project Manager I — the person who processes and manages a project? The city’s 2009 salary table (the most recent posted on its website) shows that position’s starting pay at more than $57,000 a year.

Sure, there’s a lot that goes into reviewing plans and contracts and then getting the inspections done in a timely manner. But if every $125,000 project were to cost an additional 32 percent as much because of the permits, why would anyone in their right mind proceed?

Fees are one thing; extreme fees are another.

We urge the city to look for a more rational way of collecting fees for services, especially when a nonprofit organization is involved. This is certainly one that seems out of line.

On another note about money:

The nonprofit La Jolla Fireworks Foundation says if it doesn’t get a lot more donations, there’s a chance it may have to alter the show. It needs an additional $15,000 or so to cover the costs (including city fees for permits and police and parking services) for the annual July Fourth extravaganza at La Jolla Cove.

The group says it’s been a difficult year, what with the still-challenging economy and all. It is giving itself until the end of the week before it decides what to do.

Without its efforts, the community tradition would have been a lost cause a year ago. While its first objective is to just raise enough money to pay for this year’s pyrotechnic display and the accompanying concert with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band and the Bones Apart Trombone Quartet, it would really like to get enough to perpetuate the event so that the yearly call for contributions won’t have to be quite so loud.

Be a part of the spirit of the event’s 25th year and donate now. Go to

www.lajollafireworks.org

.