TWIN FALLS, Idaho – Public health officials across the state want lawmakers next year to approve an increase in the fees Idaho restaurants pay for yearly inspections and food permitting services.
The current fee system charges $65 for each permit and does not nearly cover the costs of maintaining the food safety program, said Rene LeBlanc, director of the South Central Public Health District in Twin Falls.
The district collected $84,572 in fees during the most recent fiscal year, while the cost of the program was more than $311,729. The proposal backed by health districts statewide would spread the fee increases over a two-year period and eventually cover 67 percent of the cost for the program, LeBlanc said.
“There’s still some hurdles to go through, but we’re doing everything we can by educating our legislators,” LeBlanc said.
Under the proposal, the permit fees paid by restaurants considered high-risk for food contamination because there is extensive handling of raw ingredients would increase from $65 to about $138.50 next year. The fees would increase to $212 in during fiscal year 2010, under the plan.
Restaurants at medium risk for food contamination because they use prepackaged food that requires less handling would have a slightly smaller increase under the proposal, from $65 to $132.50 next year and to $200 in 2010.
Temporary and mobile eateries such as food carts would have to pay the smallest increase under the plan, with fees increasing to $128 in 2009 and to $191 the following year.