Cost Accounting in Local Government

Services Limited by State Laws

While performing a fee update and going through the hundreds of different fees and fines which a city may have, we noticed some fees exceeding what is currently set by State laws. This may be due to changes in State law, but more commonly, it’s because cities update all fees using a Consumer Price Index increase and forget about these limitations.

While one might say all fees are limited to full cost recovery, these fees hurt the cities’ pocketbooks and the maximum fee amount doesn’t come close to full cost recovery. From our perspective, initiative filing is the most consuming of staff time with the least cost recovery. It’s common for a city to spend 80-120 hours of the City Clerk’s time, plus legal, to verify, review and process a local initiative. What the city gets in return is $200, which is fully refundable if the initiative makes it onto the ballot.

One complaint we hear everywhere we go is the time it takes to process records requests. Under the Public Records Act, cities cannot more than the actual cost of reproduction for such requests. However, a recent court case determined that the City of Hayward may require the requestor to pay for costs to review, redact and produce police bodycam videos (National Lawyers Guild vs City of Hayward, Court of Appeal, First District, Division 3, 2018). Could this lead to a city’s ability to charge for redaction of other city files and documents?

Below is a current list of fees regulated by the State. Keep this handy when you next update your user fees, or feel free to contact RCS and we would be happy to assist you.


BINGO PERMIT Conduct an annual background check for a for-profit bingo operator in order to preserve and insure the public peace, health, safety, and welfare. This fee is limited by State law

$50 per permit

Remote Caller – Actual Cost

CANDIDATE FILING Processing an application for an intent to run for a City elected office. This fee is limited by State law

$25 per candidate

COPY – PRINTED Providing photocopies of City documents. California Government Code 81008

$0.10 per page – FPPC related document

Reproduction Costs – Other documents

CONCEALED WEAPONS PERMIT Processing a request for a concealed weapon permit within the City. California Penal Code Sections 12050-12054 and 26190a
New Permit – $100 ($20 paid at time of application with remaining amount paid upon issuing of permit)
Renewal Permit – $25
Amended Permit – $10
Psychological testing costs are added to the above fees up to $150
DUI EMERGENCY ACCIDENT RESPONSE Time spent responding to accidents with a DUI involvement. California Government Code 53155

Charge the actual costs incurred up to $12,000 per response for all responding personnel

FIREARM STORAGE Processing a firearm seizure, impounding, storage and release when required as part of a court action. California Penal Code 12021.3(j)(1)

$245 plus $1 per firearm per day for storage

INITIATIVE FILING Processing an intent to place a local initiative on the ballot. This fee is limited by State law

$200 per initiative, fully refundable if initiative is placed on ballot

NOTARY PUBLIC Providing notary service to the general public. California Government Code 8211


RECORDS REQUEST City providing requested documents and media, as permissible under State laws. $5.00 – Retrieval of FPPC filings 5 or more years old


Where applicable, fully allocated hourly rates for all personnel involved plus any outside costs – Per ruling on National Lawyers Guild vs City of Hayward, Court of Appeal, First District, Division 3, 2018

REPOSSESSED VEHICLE PROCESSING Processing of a notification that a vehicle has been repossessed. California Government Code 26751


STATE MANDATED FIRE INSPECTION Inspection of certain occupancies required by the State Fire Marshal to insure compliance with fire safety codes and regulations. These fees are set by State law

Residential Care Facility:

1-25 persons – $50

26+ persons – $100

SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM WITNESS FEE Staff subpoenaed as witness and required production of documents California Government Code 68093

$35 per day plus $0.20 per mile


California Government Code 68097.2

Full cost to the public entity incurred in paying the peace officer or firefighter


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