Hemet relinquishes fee computation and collection responsibility to WRCOG
■ By Tom Jones / Contributed
“I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” That darogotory observation is often meant as a criticism of overly intrusive government intervention, but it’s not always the case as the City of Hemet recently acknowledged.
The City of Hemet is a member of the Western Riverside Council of Governments, a joint powers agency comprised of the county and the 18 cities in Western Riverside County. Among other functions WRCOG administers the Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fee program designed to provide transportation and transit infrastructure that mitigates the impact of new development both regionally and on local communities.
Historically, the City Building Department calculated and collected the TUMF fee at the time a building permit is issued and remitted the regional fee to WRCOG that annually audits the process, holding the city accountable for any miscalculation.
Last October, WRCOG approved a policy change to allow member agencies the option of shifting the responsibility of collection to WRCOG staff in an effort to improve consistency and accuracy and reduce the administrative burden on the local agency staff. The City of Hemet currently has a similar collection system for developer fees with school districts and the Eastern Municipal Water District for water and sewer fees.
In addition to reduced staff time, the new system would shift responsibility for any errors or omissions to WRCOG which is especially important because there are frequent changes in the TUMF fees and methodology requiring additional training of city staff to keep up with.
As of the last council meeting on Feb 26, Hemet joined ten other local jurisdictions in taking the WRCOG offer, with four other cities currently considering the same action. Now who said the government can’t help? Even if it’s only one jurisdiction helping another.