The Texas Department of Agriculture has published a proposal to raise licensing fees an average of 57% for business, applicators' and technicians' licenses and continuing education courses. The reason for the fee hike is that this year's Texas legislature declined to fund benefits for TDA employees, with instructions for the agency to make up the budget shortfall with fee increases. As predicted in an earlier post, the agency took a major (45%) cut in its overall budget, though the major impact of this on the structural pest control service was in employee benefits.
According to TDA Assistant Commissioner Jimmy Bush, "The initial review for the structural program indicated that an estimated 80% increase in fees would be required. In an effort to reduce the impact of the fee increase as well as comply with the intent of the legislation, TDA has further reviewed the mandated requirements and department activities to identify efficiencies. This review has resulted in the 57% fee increase as opposed to the initial estimate of 80%."
Some of the proposed fee changes are as follows:
- Original business license fees will increase from $180 to $280
- Renewal of business license fees will increase from $180 to $280
- An original certified applicator's license will increase from $85 to $135
- Renewal of a certified applicator's license will increase from $80 to $125
- An original technician's license will increase from $65 to $100
- Renewal of a technician's license will increase from $65 to $100
- Fee for taking an exam in each category will increase from $50 to $75
- The cost for registering a CEU course will go from $40 to $60
- The option for paying fees in six month increments will no longer be available
The name for this approach to keeping things running is "cost recovery". You will be seeing this occurring in many state agencies (including my agency) unless and until someone comes up with a more equitable way to keep state government running. Daniel DeFoe, Ben Franklin and Margaret Mitchell all had it right.
P.S. There will be no Structural Pest Control Advisory Committee this summer. Meetings will resume in October.