The Brea City Council Tuesday night unanimously approved the re-establishment of a Fire Department penalty charge that had been accidentally omitted from the city’s fire code.
The late fee, adopted in 2009, is for nonpayment for services like fire inspections, permits and false alarm responses, according to a staff report. But when the fire code was adopted last year, the section about late penalties was removed due to a clerical error, said Faith Madrazo, the city revenue and budget manager .
Any unpaid fire service fee will now incur a 10 percent penalty each month until the total penalty equals the value of the original fee. If a resident or business fails to pay the fee within 60 days, the fire department will “cease providing services to the subject property or project,” according to the ordinance.
Madrazo stated in an email to Voice of OC that when the new fire code was adopted in 2011, the chapter containing the penalty was replaced with another chapter that “unfortunately … did not include the section that detailed penalty specifics.”
Madrazo added that it was impossible to say exactly how much revenue was lost but that the city does not “consider it a revenue generator. It is a monetary penalty for businesses that do not pay on time.”
The fees total about $10,000 a year, according to Madrazo. Less was collected when the fee was first implemented, she said.
Councilman Roy Moore, in an email to Voice of OC, said that the city staff “does an excellent job” and that “occasionally an error will occur.”
Moore said the mistake was a “learning experience.”