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Palo Alto Daily News &


September 16, 2008


By Shaun Bishop



Wedding, voter fees to increase
County office updates charges, effective '09



A plain old marriage license will still cost $78 if San Mateo County supervisors approve an update of dozens of various fees at a meeting today.

Getting hitched with all the wedding bells and whistles, though, would be pricier.

Reserving the county's chapel would cost $65, up from the current $35 fee. The process to deputize a friend or family member to officiate your ceremony - currently free - would soon set you back $60.

And Wedding Cam, the county's presently free service that allows couples to broadcast their ceremony over the Internet for friends and family, will cost $50.

The new wedding-related charges are some of the 64 different fees charged by Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Warren Slocum that have been targeted for an update for the first time since 2000.

The changes, set to be approved without discussion today by the Board of Supervisors, would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2009, to give people fair warning, said Carol Marks, a spokeswoman for Slocum's office.

"There's a lot of constituencies we need to communicate with and make sure they understand it's coming," Marks said.

Slocum's office paid $25,000 to Sacramento-based consultant Management of America to do a study of the fees and update them "so that we're not gouging anybody but we're not giving away the store, so to speak," Marks said.

The most dramatic increase is for obtaining a CD of voter registration data, which currently costs $1 and is available for scholarly, journalistic, political or governmental purposes.

The price tag for that same CD will rocket to $125, which Marks said will pay for the time it takes for the elections office's technical staff to compile the requested data.

Most of the fees will stay the same, and a handful will actually decrease slightly, but there are also new charges for services that residents currently enjoy gratis.

For example, searches for vital records - birth, death or marriage certificates - are free now but will cost between $13 and $17 after the update. Getting an electronic copy of fictitious business names will be $50 instead of free.

Marks said the hikes are not an attempt to turn a profit or close the county's budget deficit.

"All it'll do is help us recover costs," she said.

E-mail Shaun Bishop at


A sampling of fees that will increase under proposed changes to be approved by the Board of Supervisors:

- A CD containing voter registration information

Now: $1; 2009: $125

- An electronic copy of fictitious business names:

Now: Free; 2009: $50

- Filing fee for an assessment appeal

Now: $250; 2009: $305

- Search for birth records:

Now: Free; 2009: $17