Clean Air Authority Holds Down Fees



Yakima, WA - Fees for obtaining burn permits and air-quality inspections won't be going up next year.

Directors of the Yakima Regional Clean Air Authority on Wednesday unanimously rejected proposed fee increases that averaged 3.5 percent.

Directors said they didn't want to impose higher fees in a struggling economy while businesses are being asked to absorb higher operating costs.

Yakima Mayor Mary Place, board vice chairwoman, said local businesses already are looking at a 29 percent increase in industrial insurance rates next year.

"I don't want to put a nail in someone's coffin," Place said.

Ordering that fees remain unchanged will force Executive Director Les Ornelas to recraft a proposed 2003 budget that called for spending $854,000 to enforce air-quality laws.

The board, composed of elected officials and one citizen member, will review a revised budget next month.

Ornelas had proposed the fee increases to cover the projected increase in employee salaries for 2003. Agency employees are paid under the county's wage plan that includes annual experience increases.

Ornelas had proposed a $1 increase in the current $15 charge to obtain residential burn permits and $4 more for agricultural burn permits. Those permits currently cost $110. The charge to review and approve dust-control plans had been proposed to rise from $205 to $212.


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