Hunters, truckers and out-of-state outdoor enthusiasts are just a few of the people who will spend a little more for their jobs or hobbies next year.

More than 500 fees will increase next year, including more than 250 professional license fees in the Department of Commerce, adding an estimated $4.5 million to overall state revenues. For the most part, the fees will have only minimal financial impact on users and could even improve or expand services in various state agencies.

All of the fee increases are targeted to help the department, which charges the fees and will not help legislators looking for money to balance the budget, Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, said. Along with other members of the Executive Appropriations Committee, he was concerned about the slew of increases in the Department of Commerce and has requested further explanation from department representatives Monday.

Legislative analysts told the Executive Appropriations Committee on Friday that the $2 and $3 increases are apparently being used to create an Internet registration system for the department's license applications. The vast majority of professional licenses, which range from dental hygienists to plumbers, are handled by the department.

Almost $2 million of the new revenue will come from increases on game-hunting licenses, practically all of which will increase at least $5 and as much as $505 for non-residents wanting to shoot bison, moose, bighorn sheep and goats. The only major increase above $5 for Utahns will be a $100 bump in resident limited-entry elk licenses, which allow the hunting of elk in a more desirable area, such as the Book Cliffs.

Nonresidents will shoulder a significant portion of the hunting license increases, especially those wanting limited entry or special hunt licenses. Among the largest increases are $312 for a limited-entry bull license, $110 increase for two-year dedicated hunter licenses and $165 for three-year dedicated hunter licenses.

Among other fees that will impact relatively large groups are an increase of $30 for all new and advanced teaching certificates, and an $85 increase for alternative teaching licenses. Commercial drivers' licenses will also get more costly in the coming year, as the Department of Public Safety creates a $100 annual fee for CDLs. To do that, a new license will increase by $20, and a renewal will double from $50.

Ambulance companies will pay an additional $25 for the annual inspection of their vehicles, while emergency medical technicians (EMTs) will now have to pay $30 for a basic certification practical re-test and $120 for a basic reciprocity practical test. Many medical service agencies, such as hospice care, birthing centers and home health providers, will face fees double what they currently pay, amounting to increases of between $200 and $1,000.

House Majority Leader Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, said that he also has unanswered questions about some of the fee increases, especially those with seemingly large jumps. "If there's a cost associated with the fee, that's when an increase is needed," he said. "I want to make sure that we aren't just raising fees as a way to raise money."

As the 2004 session nears its end, a number of tax increases and decreases remain unresolved, especially with a $4.5 million hole in the budget that needs filling by Wednesday. The largest of those is actually the repeal of the seven percent cable and satellite television sales tax, which has passed the House and waits on the Senate 3rd reading calender, although the $14 million in revenue could still tempt legislators.


E-mail: jloftin@desnews.com