Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County Supes Consider Waiving Additional Fees for Small Businesses

FILE - A customer enters a store with a face mask required sign displayed in Dallas, in this Tuesday, March 2, 2021, file photo. Although nearly a fifth of U.S. states don't require people to wear masks to protect against COVID-19, some businesses are requiring employees and customers to be masked on their premises.
AP Photo/LM Otero, File

Small businesses in Santa Clara County may be getting another fee waived from the county to offset impacts of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, county supervisors will vote on waiving the Weights and Measures annual fee for 2020/2021 which could save small businesses that use scanners and scales about $120 to more than $500 in fees.

This would mostly help about 1,000 neighborhood grocers, retailers, gas stations, restaurants and other small businesses that use those devices.

The legislation was introduced by Supervisors Cindy Chavez and Susan Ellenberg in February as another means of county support for businesses hardest hit.

Every year, the county collects a registration fee on all weighing and measuring devices that require testing to offset the costs of inspections and tests. Fees consist of a $100 location fee, a small State of California Department of Food and Agriculture administrative fee and device fees that average around $20.

Small businesses that use price verification systems, commonly known as scanners, also have an additional fee that can start at $200 and go up to $495 depending on the number of scanners.

"(By waiving) those fees… we make sure that you still get the protection as consumers that you need, and at the same time the businesses are getting some relief," Chavez said. Businesses would still be required to apply and get their equipment inspected by the county; they just wouldn't have to pay for it if the fee waiver passes.

"(Small businesses) are holding it together by the skin of their teeth and so any assistance that we can provide, we should be providing," Chavez said. "These are all annualized costs that they would normally have so this allows them to again to tuck away some money and to use it for other things they need in their stores."

Since the start of the pandemic, the county has absorbed other fees like reopening and health department fees -- costing the county's general fund about $5 million. If passed, this waiver would bring the county's total costs absorbed to $5.5 million, Chavez said.

However, Chavez said it should be reimbursed by federal and state COVID relief legislation or future government action.

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