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State debates inspection fees

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ANN MARIE AMES
August 5, 2008
— Two state departments are debating fees for inspections of restaurants, campgrounds, convenience stores, tattoo parlors, farms and other businesses.

Changes in state fees could affect the way the Rock County Health Department charges for licenses but will not affect the way the county does inspections, sanitarian Roger Eychaner said.


The Wisconsin departments of health services and agriculture, trade and consumer protection contract with the county for county employees to do the inspections. The county pays the state for each license it issues.


In counties without contracts, state workers do the inspections.


The department of health services is facing a projected $2.5 million deficit for its Food Safety and Recreational Licensing program. To cover the gap, the department could raise the fees for the licenses it issues.


“We’re reviewing the fees because many have not been revised for nearly 10 years—some not at all,” spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis wrote in an e-mail to The Janesville Gazette.


The state now charges $685 for an annual license for a grocery store the size of Woodman’s, for example.


The county charges $950 for the same license.


The state could start charging a re-inspection fee—something the county already does, Eychaner said.


That places a larger part of the financial burden onto the shoulders of businesses that violate and require repeat trips from inspectors, Marquis and Eychaner said.


The agriculture department also is considering raising fees for licenses as well as the fees the county pays to issue licenses.


In both cases, the county might have to pay the state more to issue licenses to Rock County businesses, Eychaner said.


“We set our fees independently but have to take into account how much they will charge,” he said.



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