Council President Sally Clark is sponsoring two pieces of legislation that amend Hearing Examiner procedures and filing fees.
The first bill would allow the Office of Hearing Examinerto provide notices and copies of Hearing Examiner decisions electronically to those who wish to receive them in an electronic format. The Hearing Examiner recently completed a project that allows appeals and most other related documents to be filed electronically, which has reduced the amount of paper required to pursue an appeal. Many of those involved in Hearing Examiner cases have also asked to receive hearing notices and decisions electronically. The Hearing Examiner’s staff currently scans the requested documents and sends them electronically, but the existing code requires that paper copies also be sent through the mail. The proposed legislation would remove this requirement and allow the Hearing Examiner to provide notices and decisions in the format desired by the parties. For cases in which the code requires notice by certified mail, and for documents served on owners of landmark buildings, notice would continue to be sent by mail.
The second bill would increase most Hearing Examiner filing fees from $50 to $85, in order to cover filing costs and account for inflation in the cost of living. Raising the fees would allow the Office of Hearing Examiner to recover the salary and overhead costs incurred for the steps involved in setting up a new case. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of living increased by 62 percent between 1992, when Hearing Examiner filing fees were last raised, and March, 2012. The recommended filing fee of $85 would constitute a 70 percent increase. It would cover Hearing Examiner costs, and would account for both the rate of inflation since 1992 and the fact that the rate of inflation has increased in recent months. Had this fee been in place between 2006 and 2008, average revenue from filing fees during those years would have increased by $2,240.00, to an average total of $5,440. The Hearing Examiner has stated that she expects to retain the proposed $85 filing fee for the next two to five years.
The City Council’s Committee on Economic Resiliency and Regional Relations will hold a public hearing to take comments on the proposed legislation on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 in City Council Chambers, 2nd floor, Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue. The Committee meeting will start at 9:30 a.m. Questions concerning the public hearing may be directed to David Yeaworth in Councilmember Clark’s office, by calling (206) 684-5328 or via e-mail at email@example.com. The notice of the public hearing, at http://web1.seattle.gov/dpd/luib/Notice.aspx?BID=714&NID=13602, contains additional information.
The proposed legislation is available at the City Clerk’s website by going to this link, http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~public/CBOR1.htm, and filling in the Council Bill number for the bill. The Council Bill number is 117451 for the bill about filing fees, and it is 117436 for the bill about electronic notice.
Paper copies of the proposed legislation may be obtained at the City Clerk’s office on the third floor of City Hall, 600 4th Avenue. The City Clerk’s office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. Questions regarding the proposed amendments may be directed to Sue Tanner, Seattle Hearing Examiner, at (206) 684-0521 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to Rebecca Herzfeld of City Council central staff at (206) 684-8148 or via e-mail at email@example.com.