TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners passed an array of new or increased fees Wednesday to help fill the hole in their budget caused by declining property tax receipts.
The increased fees largely affect senior citizens, people who prefer to adopt a stray animal and those whose own pets end up at the animal shelter for running off or biting someone.
For the first time, Hillsborough County will charge a co-payment of sorts for adult day care of seniors at six of the county's eight senior centers. The new charge will run from $1 to $11 hourly, depending on the person's income level.
Low-income seniors, those with income at 125 percent of the poverty level, would be exempted. Those who do pay typically will still pay much less than it would cost for a private adult day care center.
The new charge will help avoid doing away with the program next year, as is proposed in the county's preliminary budget. It is one of the programs acting Administrator Mike Merrill said his office is looking to farm out to private providers by 2012.
Aging services director Bart Banks said he believes Hillsborough is one of the last counties in the state not to charge for such a program.
"(The fee) allows us the opportunity to continue to provide the services as well as expand it to other clients who may not afford to pay," Banks said, before the fee was approved unanimously.
The cost of adopting an animal from the shelter will also go up. Adopting an adult dog will cost $85 after June 1, up from $65. And there will be a new fee for puppies, which often need to be sterilized, and dogs under 25 pounds, of $125. That's in addition to pet registration fees.
Animal services director Bill Armstrong said the new charges are in line with what the Humane Society's fees, so he said he doesn't think it will result in a drop in adoptions.
Commissioners Jim Norman and Al Higginbotham voted against the fee hikes.