Board raises environmental health fees

MORRIS – The Grundy County Environmental Health Division will be the next department to raise user fees as a result of a recent cost-analysis study.

The Environmental Health Division – a facet of the health department – drafted a new fee schedule based on results of the Bellwether Consulting study, proposing to increase several of their fees by 25 percent.

On Wednesday, the Grundy County Board of Health positively recommended an ordinance authorizing the new fee schedule, which covers fees for private sewage disposal services, food service establishments, water wells and several other environmental health-related fees.

Most of the proposed fee increases are $10 to $25 higher than current the current rates, and Director of Environmental Health Mike Boyle said they have not yet projected how much additional revenue the new fees will generate.

The department decided to raise the fees only slightly – lower than the amounts Bellwether suggested in its study – but may increase the fees again next year.

“In the recitals, it talks about potentially going forward and increasing up to the full level of what Bellwether recommended, but in a step format. So, in other words, at least two steps, instead in this one huge step,” Boyle said Wednesday.

In May, the county paid Bellwether Consulting about $24,000 to conduct a cost analysis study in the health department, sheriff’s department and clerk and recorder office.

After a thorough analysis of each department, the study found the actual cost incurred by the county when providing certain services.

The study looked at user fees, meaning fees that apply to people only using a particular service or making a particular transaction.

Results of the study – presented at a previous Grundy County Finance Committee meeting – showed the county could raise as much as $440,000 per year in additional revenue if it increased user fees to match the county’s actual costs.

The sheriff’s department and clerk and recorder office already have followed Bellwether’s recommendations to increase their user fees.

The proposed environmental health fees will go before the full County Board for final approvals, likely next month.

Jim Wright, Chairman of the Board of Health, said the Finance Committee was supportive of the fee increases in a recent budget hearing.

The County Board has considered the higher fees a legitimate way to recapture some revenue next year as they face budget holes.

“The county is looking at decreased revenue in the general fund, so they understandably have less dollars to work with,” Wright said Wednesday.