Thursday, July 14, 2011

No new taxes (but maybe new fees)

If it didn't hurt so much, it might be funny. In case you haven't noticed, there's nary a politician in the country who wants to be caught voting for higher taxes these days. Yet in order to balance budgets without dismantling essential programs, fees are quietly being raised for many different state and federal programs.  The latest proposed fee hikes for pest control licenses are just one example.

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
If you have comments on the schedule of proposed fee increases, you may contact Jimmy Bush, Assistant Commissioner for Pesticides, Texas Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 12847, Austin, TX  78711.   You must have your comments in by August 7.

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.


Anonymous said...

During the 2006 Sunset Process the then separate Pest Control Board Agency had 30.5 employees. Today under the Texas Department of Agriculture there are 49 employees required to do the same job. It is clear this is not better government; this is bigger government. In 2005 there were 3400 commercial pest control operators in the state. Today there are 3461 commercial operators. Does it really take 20 extra employees to handle 61 more companies? Did the Sunset Process fail in this case? Are the pest control operators also covering the cost of the mandated IPM school programs in the state of Texas public schools?

Apparently it has been determined that any state licensing program is to be self sufficient and must cover all expenses by the state employees, including benefits. While I do believe in the idea that government programs should cover their own costs, then why are the schools or the Department of Education not covering the cost of the IPM programs IN schools? Why should we cover the pension of some state employees, when we ourselves do not have a pension and are forced to fund the social security system? I believe the government employees should be saddled with the same benefits that the rest of we Texans have to look forward to in our future. This makes no sense and is not fair, especially in the current economic environment. I don’t have money to pay for someone else’s retirement! We are in times of significant unemployment, and we are being asked to try to hire more people if possible at our company so they can have jobs, and now we’re also being asked to have a 57% increase in fees???!!

The Ant Lady said...

Do they not realize that pct's are already underpaid by most firms. Benefits are the low on the totem poll for us unfortunately and if they increase these fees...the few business owners that actually pay for their employees ceu's and license, they will probubly discontinue this. We are one of the most important service's in our country yet we receive some of the hardest hits..HMMM.

Nick said...

This really does hurt, as we are a start up company and found it already very expensive to get a business up and going in Texas. But on the other hand after getting first hand knowledge on industry pricing for chemicals and such, it would seem to me that its a fair price hike. I dont mind providing funds for my country and its workers. Most companies over charge greatly. There is no justification for (most) companies to adjust their pricing up and put the costs off on their customers.We are trying to simply provide a valuable service at very fair rates while working for ourselves and God willing offer employment/partnership to future employees, who will be able to provide a living for their families as well with a fair salary.As of yet that is nowhere to see in the near future as we cannot afford to get our name out there, and this will make it that much harder but WE WILL NOT GIVE UP. We do not want an empire we simply want a future.