Sustained and thoughtful effort is given to public sector process changes that seek to meet mandates passed down through state of California regulations and to cover the necessary costs to get the work done. These changes are made with a focus on local residents, the economy and the changing requirements that must be met. However, even when modifications have been designed with the greatest of care, sometimes departments miss the broader context that makes changes understandable, useable and valuable to the citizens that hold governments accountable.
Recently, the Environmental Health Services Division (EHS) (which falls under the umbrella of the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency) proposed a change in fee structure for permits that impacts temporary food facility vendors and organizers, swap meet food facility vendors with prepackaged foods, and certified farmers market organizers. Proposed modifications were based on observation, evaluation and inspections of food operations and were based on food safety risks by the EHS. The EHS believed these fee structure changes were more accurate in reflecting the types of inspections, inspection times and resources needed to perform inspections. Unfortunately, the proposed fee structure was simply at odds with our business climate here in Tulare County.
The Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA) realizes that some pivotal changes are needed so that permit fee structures will be reasonable and yield a better business climate in Tulare County. HHSA is offering stakeholder forums throughout the summer in each supervisorial district to determine how EHS can better promote transparency, accountability, and good governance. The forums are for community leaders, temporary food facility vendors, mobile food truck owners, community event/swap meet organizers, and non-profit event coordinators.
The dates, times and locations for these meetings have been released to local media, posted at the Board of Supervisors and in the EHS, posted in the “The HHSA Community” section under “Public Information & Services” on www.tchhsa.org, and posted on the TulareCountyHHSA Facebook page. Questions or comments may be directed to [email protected] and 624-7439.
We hope business and community leaders will bring their voices to the table as HHSA seeks to better understand the needs of the business community and present information on the California Health & Safety Code. HHSA would like to gain a more complete picture of what will work for business owners and event organizers so that a new proposal can be designed and brought to the Board of Supervisors in late August.
HHSA and the EHS look forward to working with the leaders of our community to further clarify and design a fee structure that ensures a more prosperous Tulare County.