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Increases ahead for pool, restaurant inspection fees?

To help make up an $80,000 shortfall in the budget for the Fayette County Health Department, local residents may be paying more for their required annual swimming pool inspections and restaurants will pay more for health inspections.

But a health department official was unable to immediately convince the Fayette County Commission to adopt the fee increases after a detailed presentation Wednesday.

The Fayette County Commission was skeptical of the proposal brought forward by Richard Fehr, manager of the Environmental Health Division of the Fayette County Health Department.

He suggested that pool inspections increase from $100 currently to $225, and food service health inspections would increase from $200 to $325 for those with 50 seats or less, and from $300 to $425 for establishments with 51 seats or more.

The health department also is asking to increase its annual inspection fee for tourist accommodations from $150 to $275.

Fayette’s existing fees are well below the amount charged by nine other metro Atlanta counties, Fehr said. For example, Fayette’s current $100 annual pool inspection cost is well below the $200 mark in Gwinnett and Rockdale counties, $250 in Cobb, $280 in Newton and $300 or more in DeKalb, Clayton and Fulton counties.

Fayette’s fees were last raised some four years ago, Fehr said.

According to Fehr, the budget shortfall is largely due to the decrease in new home building, which formerly had been one of the health department’s largest sources of revenue.

Commissioner Robert Horgan, who sits on the county’s board of health, noted that there have been increased obligations forced by new regulations on restaurant inspections, and he didn’t think the county needed to pay more money toward the health department at this time.

But Commission Chairman Herb Frady questioned why the matter is being brought up some three months into the county’s budget year.

Commissioner Lee Hearn said he would need to see a “real justification” for the increased fees, because he wanted to avoid the significant increases proposed by Fehr’s presentation.

County Manager Jack Krakeel said when the county raises its fees, it works to make sure the new fees are covering the cost of the service, including staff time. Krakeel suggested such a review would be worthwhile for the health department.

Commissioner Steve Brown said he wished there was a way to fund improved technology for the health department to streamline the inspection process by using handheld computers, for example.



Please reread carefully the first sentence of this article. It doesn't suggest why the Health Dept is underfunded, just that they need more money and are going after what they may percieve as the "low-hanging fruit", with no actual justification for increased fees other than they need more money.

BHH's picture

such as in a subdivision and not private pools.

At least that is the way it was originally sold to the public and if it is somehow beginning to be interpreted otherwise then it needs to be eliminated.

If it was written in such a way as to allow the county to "require" the inspection of private pools at some time in the future then it needs to be seriously reviewed and rewritten.

And I agree that this department has not justified a need for more revenue, but just wants their fees to be closer to the rest of the metro area's. If this department's work load has decreased due to less building inspections then eliminate some personnel and don't just look for ways to continue paying them.

However you can expect in the near future for the Health department and the "Storm water "departments to join forces in a move to require regular inspections of home septic systems as has been a desire of the local septic tank pumping companies for quite some time.


kevink's picture

The "local residents" statement makes me think this applies to any resident with a pool. Anyone know if that's the case? Seems a bit arbitrary. This definitely needs more scrutiny and discussion. Next they'll be checking the lint filters in our dryers due to one in Topeka, Ks causing a fire.


Vote Mytmite in 2012!

[quote]Commissioner Steve Brown said he wished there was a way to fund improved technology for the health department to streamline the inspection process by using handheld computers, for example.[/quote]

We can always count on Brown to do the wishin' and a hopin'.

sorry, this was actually my first attempted response, more or less, but due to my ineptness (yes, i'm old) i managed to delete before posting. so here's what i really wanted to say: i don't own a pool or a restaurant, so i don't directly have a dog in this particular fight. but i still find offensive that a county dept would make up fees that don't have any apparent relation to cost, just to subsidize other unfunded expenses (i.e. health care for illegals?) No,i certainly don't want to pay to have my neighbor's pool inspected (if in fact that's even a valid govenmental function). By the same token,i would like to know what I AM paying for.
It seems like every week I read an article about some governmental body creating or increasing another fee. Bottom Line: tell us what it costs, and let US the Taxpayers decide if we want to pay for it.

Anyone that has ever witnessed one of these would wonder why there is even a $100.00 fee. Staff time and involvment is quite minimal. These all started because of an incident years ago at Whitewater in ATL involving a diaper.

I seem to recall a story about White Water Park in Marietta years ago where there was an E. Coli outbreak. (Eww.)

I think we would all be better off if they just hit the violators with hefty fines. Any restaurant with a score under an A should get hit up. They will either work very hard at not paying the fines or Fayette County will be rolling in the dough.

A great reminder to check those inspection scores though.

BHH's picture

drinking the pool water in the first place much less defecating in it.

An inspection can't prevent either no matter who's pool it is.


They come out to the community pool at the opening and tell you they "may" come back during the season. You are right that if an accident happens the day after the inspection or the 4th of July the health dept is of little use. It was begun as a moneymaker from the beginning. Maybe rest. inspections are different than the ones I had 40 yrs ago. Same ole sad sack guy would come in. Look around and always find something wrong, even if it was the way it was last time. He always found something. The response was to just jump right up and fix it. Then a bunch of times he'd sit down & pay for lunch.
I don't remember having to pay an extra fee, maybe it was in the biz license but back then everyone around here was a Democrat except Bo Callaway & he couldn't win a repug primary now.

of the pool at Harmony Village last summer they would understand that these inspections are for owners and/or mgt. that just don't get it. Fine 'em big and shut 'em down.

If the budget shortfall is due to the decrease in new home building, then combine the Environmental and Physical Health Divisions, cross train them and make it more efficient. Also, to have any dept. run on paper records only is archaic.

Why wasn't this run by the County Mgr. first and a review done before coming to the Comm.? The manner in which it was presented was not in any way deserving of approval. I don't understand why this dept. head didn't work with the mgt. of the county to get this given proper consideration. Nor do I understand why the county mgr. wasn't already involved.

NUK_1's picture

...that tells you poorly prepared and thought out this whole idea was :)

think of that caused them all to say no was that they want the state to contribute money to this budget since it is their mandate that has to be followed and the inspections have become much more involved. Combine that with the poor presentation and it just was such a waste of time.

I never knew that restaurants had to PAY to get inspected! Why is that not a mandated function of the Health Dept? What happens if one doesn't chose to pay? Gets shutdown? And if that happens,what is the legal justification? What a crock!

according to the county web site, they are done to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. Now the question is why doesn't the state or the feds do their own testing? (The thought makes me queazy)

And yes, if it's bad enough, they will shut them down.

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