New fees upset child care providers
By Joshua Lynsen
New licensing fees have eased Olmsted County's cash woes, but angered some local child care providers.
Olmsted County Community Services has started billing child-care providers $250 annual fees to operate. Each fee, which is the maximum amount the county can charge, includes a $100 licensing fee and $150 for a background study.
Paul Fleissner, director of community services, said the new fees will generate about $75,000 in revenue each year. He said yearly costs related to day care licenses top $200,000.
"We've never received funding from the state for this function," Fleissner said. "We're still not covering our whole costs, but we're covering some of it."
Some child care providers, however, are angry they suddenly must pay $250 for the license and background check that previously were free.
Konnie Entgelmeier, who runs a child care center in Byron, said the fee came as a surprise. She also was surprised by the limited methods officials would use to accept payment -- only via a cashier's check or money order.
"I had no idea I was going to have to come up with this money," Entgelmeier said. "Mine is due Oct. 1. Where do I come up with $250?"
For decades, the county has not been compensated for licensing private child care homes, Fleissner said. Counties can seek permission from legislators to charge a fee. After years of trying, Olmsted County was granted that exception this year.
Fleissner said the $250 fee Olmsted County will charge is typical of fees charged in other counties. He said if providers cannot afford the fee, it can be passed along.
"We assume that a portion will be charged off to customers," Fleissner said. "They can do that. They set their own rates."
But Entgelmeier said no mater who pays the annual fees, they are too high. She said those costs would be more reasonable if they were billed every other year.
While Entgelmeier said the fees will not drive her away from the business, she said people should be more appreciative of a business that is so vital to the economy.
"What would happen if all of Olmsted County's day-care providers went on strike one day?" she said. "What would happen to Rochester?"