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City Council votes not to implement annual church fire inspection fees

June 23, 2000
Santa Paula News
Churches will not be subjected to a special fire department inspection fee after the City Council decided to shelve the proposal at the June 5th meeting. The council has been considering various fees on a separate basis that were addressed in a consultant’s Fee Study report; some fees were rejected outright while others were asked to be brought back after further study.Santa Paula Fire Department Chief Paul Skeels said charging a fee to annually inspect churches - briefly implemented at one point, discontinued for the city’s fee study effort and then strenuously objected to by a local pastor when brought back for council discussion - would not a big revenue generator.Chief Skeels said that businesses are charged for inspections “absent some direction it would seem to me that a public assembly fee should be charged.” There are about 30 churches in Santa Paula, he added, and fees would be on a sliding scale depending on the size and seating.“We’re probably talking about no more than $7,500 each year in revenue,” through charging for church inspections, said Chief Skeels. “It’s not an insignificant amount,” to the city but more of financial burden on the churches.Other Ventura County cities do not charge for church fire inspections, noted Chief Skeels report on the matter.
Vice Mayor Don Johnson asked how the city is made aware of a new church and Chief Skeels said he believes application for a business license triggers the inspection process.Johnson made a motion that Santa Paula churches continue to be inspected for fire hazards but be exempt from any fees for same.All the members of the council agreed and voted yes on the motion.