golfer golfing on green golf course
Many parks services, like golf, charge fees because they are considered highly individualized.

Some County Fees Set to Change in 2020

Author: Administrative Office
Date: 11/19/2019 2:18 PM

The County will have 1,978 fees for FY 2020-21, which is just seven (or less than 1%) more than the current year.


The people of San Luis Obispo County had the opportunity to weigh in on changes to County fees for certain public services; some changes take effect in January 2020 and others take effect in July 2020.

The County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing at its Nov. 19 meeting to review proposed changes to the County’s current 1,971 fees, which make up about $49 million, or 8%, of the County’s overall revenue. As a result of various changes approved at the hearing, the County will have 1,978 fees for FY 2020-21, which is just seven (or less than 1%) more than the current year. All of the changes will result in an estimated increase of $526,669, or 1.43%, over the current year’s fee revenue. The Board of Supervisors also voted to form an ad hoc committee to conduct a detailed review of County fees in the future. 

The County provides thousands of services to the public that are either supported by taxes or supported by fees. The Board’s policy, with some exceptions, is to the recover the full cost of providing services that benefit an individual or entity (e.g., animal adoption and registration, building permits, rental of County facilities, and passes to recreational areas such as campgrounds and golf courses, as well as other services). This policy does not extend to basic tax-supported services that benefit the broader community (e.g. law enforcement, fire protection, etc.).  

Earlier this year, County departments reviewed the current list of County fees (1,971 total) using the Board-approved revenue policies (No. 21, Cost Recovery Through Fees; and No. 22, Parks Cost Recovery). At the recommendation of County staff, the Board voted to:

  • Keep 1,448 (73%) the same
  • Increase 389 (20%) - Primary factors include changes in the volume of business, negotiated wage increases that went into effect in FY 2018-19, and a Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase of 2.5%. Over half of the proposed fee increases are for Public Health services many of which are typically reimbursed through Medi-Cal or private insurance carriers
  • Decrease 82 (4%) - Primary factors include changes in the volume of business
  • Delete 52 (3%) and add 59

The Board of Supervisors has some discretion on setting fee amounts, but other fees are set by statute (e.g., some filing fees, recording fees, license fees, etc.). Fees set by statute do not require the Board’s approval. Of the 582 fees either increasing, decreasing, added, or deleted, the Board has:

  • full discretion over 380 (65%)
  • partial discretion over 179 (31%)
  • no discretion over 23 (4%)

Most fees (75%) fully or mostly recover the costs of providing a specific service. Other fees may recover a large portion of costs, but perhaps not all costs. Sometimes statute, Board policy or prior Board direction requires certain fees to be set lower than cost. For example, some Library service fees are set lower than cost to encourage the return of Library materials, and some Health Agency fees are set lower in the interest of public health and safety.

County staff will soon publish online a master fee schedule (or list) containing all County fees as established by the Board of Supervisors at the hearing at