Fee Study Timeline

If a fee change is needed to enable your agency to have the resources to perform a specified level of service, understanding when to conduct a fee study in order to have the fee change take effect at the right time is essential to ensure the solvency of your organization. The timing of when the fee increase can be implemented depends on the approach that is needed to change the fee.

The following information in this article is specific to the State of California.

o If your fee is in statute and you need to amend the law to adjust fees:

·     Complete the fee study by April or May, in time for your management to decide how or if they will propose implementing the fee change. If they agree with the fee change, submit a Budget Change Concept to your management, if your department uses Concepts.

·     Get stakeholder approval of your fee study, if possible.

·      If all stakeholders concur, you can request authority to expend the new fee changes and a change in statute at the same time by submitting a Budget Change Proposal with an attached trailer bill. The trailer bill changes the law so the new fee revenue can be projected and collected. The Budget Change Proposal is necessary to be granted the authority to expend this new fee revenue.

·     If all stakeholders do not concur and there is opposition to your proposed fee increase, or if you have not ironed out the details of the new fees, work with your Legislative Unit on an approach.

·     If your fee change is chaptered and becomes law in a separate bill (not a trailer bill that attaches to the budget bill),complete a Budget Change Proposal to provide your agency with the authority to spend the new fees. The timeline for a Budget Change Proposal can be found here.

o If you have a board or commission with the authority to adjust fees:

·     Work with your board or commission staff to identify the timelines associated with submitting the fee study along with the proposed fee changes so your board or

     commission can vote on the fee changes at a March or April meeting.  

·     Complete the fee study prior to your board or commission voting meeting.

·     If the board or commission formally approves a fee change, submit a Budget Change Proposal to provide your agency with the authority to expend the additional fees.

Regardless of the method you use to change the fees, if the Budget Change Proposal in either scenario is approved through the entire budget process, you will have authority to expend the funds on or around July 1 the following year—18 months after the Budget Change Concept is submitted to your agency’s management, or about 10 months after the Budget Change Proposal is submitted to the Department of Finance. The Budget Change Proposal calendar can be found here.

As always, work with your Department of Finance analyst to ensure you are using the latest template and upload instructions for submittals and work with your Legislative Unit for any needed changes in statute.

Pursuing a legislative fee increase is a lengthy process. Therefore, if you use the above timeline in planning when to conduct a fee study, your organization should begin receiving the additional revenue and expenditure authority when you need it.  

Chris Atkinson

Chris has over 10 years of experience working in private sector consulting, local government, and in internal consulting capacities. He specializes in organizational performance assessment and its several focus areas. He has assisted numerous organizations to assess problem areas and make recommendations for improvement so that they can target resources and achieve significant performance improvement.

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