Government Fee Litigation
In California we are experiencing a pandemic of excessive government fees. To replace lost tax revenues and feed the appetite of expanding government budgets, more and more State agencies, counties, cities and service districts are charging consumers and businesses excessive new or increased fees for virtually every conceivable kind of government service, permit, or approval. All too often these fee programs are operated as “profit centers” to generate extra revenues that are siphoned off to the general fund of local agencies or used to pay for completely unrelated public services/ facilities. While fees may be a legitimate financing mechanism for the reasonable cost of government services and public facilities, excessive government fees are unlawful and unconstitutional “taxes” or “takings” by government. Such illegal fees inflate the cost of living for everyone, and promote dishonesty and corruption in State and local government.
Until recently fee paying consumers and businesses in California had little recourse to fight back against illegal excessive government fees. However, the proliferation of excessive government fees has led to litigation and case law offering hope to fee payers who seek to bring government fees back down to earth, and in some cases obtain refunds of their payments of excessive fees. At the forefront of this rapidly emerging practice area, attorney Walt McNeill is recognized as one of the leading litigators in California challenging excessive government fees. We have challenged building permit and plan review fees, water capacity charges, garbage collection fees, open space assessments, traffic impact fees, and environmental document fees, among others. Through negotiation and settlement, as well as litigation, we have obtained large scale refunds of excessive fee payments for clients, and convinced or compelled government agencies to substantially reduce future fees to a level no more than the reasonable cost of providing government services. Below are recent cases (some still pending) where we are representing or have helped clients challenge excessive government fees. The good news is that, with effective legal representation, you can “fight City Hall” and get relief from illegal excessive government fees.