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Westmoreland business owners won't face 5% hike in fees

| Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
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Carol Claycomb Show (left) of Arlington, Va., formerly of Alverton, Westmoreland County, was selected as a 2012 Holiday Volunteer at the White House. With her in front of the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room are her mother, Betty Claycomb of Alverton, and her husband, Chaplain Col. Stephen Show, a Mt. Pleasant native.

Westmoreland County businesses owners will not have to pay a 5 percent increase to license cash registers, gas pumps, scales and other measuring devices.

The higher fee was scheduled to be implemented next month, but county commissioners approved an ordinance last week that changes how businesses will be charged to inspect and license devices.

That action eliminated 5 percent increases that were to be implemented in 2013 and again in 2015.

“It's just adjusting things,” Commissioners Charles Anderson said.

Bureau of Weights and Measurements inspectors test each cash register, scale, scanner and gas pump and certify their accuracy. Inspections focus on whether consumers receive the proper volume of fuel they pump at gas stations, if parking meters click off time accurately, and if store scales record the proper weight of goods being purchased.

Businesses previously were assessed flat fees that ranged from $21 to $105.

Instead of the higher fees, the bureau will charge businesses based on the number of devices in each location.

The new system will charge businesses $20 for every scanner and $10 for each timing device, such as a clothes dryer. Gas pumps will be assessed $50 per dispenser.

Businesses with fewer scanners will pay less than before while larger outlets with more devices are expected to pay more.

Bureau Director Scott Sistek said the new fee structure will reduce costs for small businesses.

“The little guy is going to see a real benefit here,” Sistek said. “It's something we have to do to make it right for everyone.”

Sistek said the county is not expected to increase revenue initially as a result of the change. Last year, it collected $145,000 from licensing fees.

Chad Amond, president of the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce, said his members have taken no position on the new fee structure.

“We think the impact will be limited. We seek efficiency in government, and this will make it more efficient and fairer for everyone,” Amond said.

“We see it as a way to streamline the process to make it fair across the board,” he said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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