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Paynesville Press - December 17, 2003

Stearns County Commissioners set 2004 fee schedule

By Michael Jacobson

The Stearns County Board of Commissioners took the following actions at their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

•The board set the 2004 fee schedule for the Department of Human Services. Included in this fee list are licensing charges for home daycares. Initially in the proposal, licensing would have cost as much as $250 per daycare every two years. However, the board adopted a plan that minimized those costs to a maximum of $175 every two years.

Providers would pay $125 for the actual licensing and $25 per person, with a maximum of $50, for the background study done on those either living in the home or caring for the children. The county's total cost each time it licenses a daycare is approximately $850 per applicant. The board unanimously agreed to reduce the proposed rates after hearing testimony from residents.

Commissioner Don Otte voted for the measure but said that his district in western Stearns County has fewer kids in daycare and a lower wage scale than other areas of the county, so the new fees would have a larger impact on their incomes, he said.

This is the first time the county is charging any type of licensing fee to home daycare providers.

Other fees approved by the board include higher supervision and drug testing fees for criminal offenders and a $295 per day charge for detox services, up from last year's fee of $230.

A $10 per hour donation will also be asked of any organization or business that uses the community service crews, inmates who serve part of their sentence doing community service work. Currently, there is no such charge.

Donation requests were raised for public health services. Immuniza-tions were raised from $6 to $8, flu vaccinations from $7 to $15, and the senior health clinic from $8 to $9.

All the new fees will take effect in 2004.

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