|SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD DECISION DOCUMENT|
|REGULATIONS GOVERNING FEES FOR SERVICES PERFORMED IN CONNECTION WITH LICENSING AND RELATED SERVICES--2015 UPDATE|
|DECISION UPDATED THE FEES THAT THE PUBLIC MUST PAY TO FILE CERTAIN CASES AND PLEADINGS WITH THE BOARD.|
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|Full Text of Decision|
45072 SERVICE DATE – AUGUST 2, 2016
Surface Transportation Board
Docket No. EP 542 (Sub-No. 24)
REGULATIONS GOVERNING FEES FOR SERVICES PERFORMED
IN CONNECTION WITH LICENSING AND RELATED SERVICES—2016 UPDATE
Decided: July 27, 2016
Digest: This decision updates the fees that the public must pay to file certain cases and pleadings with the Board to cover the 2016 full cost levels. In this update, the following results are obtained: 18 fees increased by $50 or less, 15 fees increased by $100 to $199, 23 fees increased by $200 to $300, 19 fees increased by more than $300, and the remaining 58 fees will be maintained at their current level.
The Surface Transportation Board (STB or Board) is required by regulation at 49 C.F.R. § 1002.3 to update its user fees at least once per year. The Board’s last annual user-fee update was issued in Regulations Governing Fees for Services Performed in Connection with Licensing & Related Services—2015 Update (2015 Fee Update), EP 542 (Sub-No. 23) (STB served July 15, 2015), and became effective August 14, 2015. This decision updates the Board’s fees based on the cost study formula set forth at 49 C.F.R. § 1002.3(d) and other relevant factors.
RESULTS FROM THE 2016 UPDATE
The Board’s current master Schedule of Filing Fees has increased from 125 to 133 fee items due to an expansion of fee item 98, which will now include four fee items each for both monthly and quarterly Waybill requests. Today’s user fee decision is based on the 1.46% across-the-board general and locality salary increase and various overhead cost changes described in this decision. Approximately 86% of the fee schedule either increases by $300 or less or remains unchanged as a result of this decision.
2016 UPDATE FACTORS
The factors that bear on the full-cost calculation of the Board’s fee items are direct labor costs, government fringe benefit costs, and three types of overhead costs: the Operations Overhead factor, the Office General and Administrative Expense factor (Office Overhead factor), and the Board’s Office General and Administrative Expense factor (Board Overhead factor).
Direct Labor. Direct labor costs for 2016 reflect a combined Government-wide 1.0 percent general and 0.46 percent locality salary increase that took effect in January 2016.
Government Fringe Benefits. No updates have been instituted with respect to the Government Fringe Benefit Cost factor. Therefore, the Government Fringe Benefit Cost factor used in the update formula is applied at the same rate as in last year’s decision – 56.25%.
Operations Overhead. The Operations Overhead factor accounts for the time devoted by Office Directors, Deputy Directors, and any Directors’ assistants or administrative staff. Based on fiscal year (FY) 2015 labor data, the Operations Overhead factor for 19 employees is set at 20.49%, a slight decrease from last year’s 20.54% level, and is relied upon in this decision.
Office Overhead. The Office Overhead factor accounts for non-labor costs in the following seven categories: (1) Property Movement; (2) Rent and Utilities; (3) Printing; (4) Services to the Board; (5) Materials and Supplies; (6) Equipment Procurement; and (7) Property Indemnities/Other-Legal Settlement. Based on FY 2015 budget data, the Office Overhead factor is 26.79%, an increase from the FY 2014 figure of 26.07%. Four categories contributed significantly to the increase from FY 2014 to FY 2015: Services to the Board, Equipment Procurement, Rent and Utilities, and Materials and Supplies. The Services category increased by $40,327 over its FY 2014 counterpart; the Equipment category increased by $97,071 over its FY 2014 counterpart due to the new computers and related products that the Board procured in FY 2015; the Rent and Utilities component rose by $84,333 over its FY 2014 level; and the Materials and Supplies category increased over its FY 2014 level by $38,634. In total, these four categories accounted for $260,365. Factoring in the other three categories leads to a total increase of $257,825 over the FY 2014 level. Based upon the various increases and decreases to the seven categories that make up this factor, the 26.79% Office Overhead factor will be applied in this decision.
Board Overhead. The Board Overhead factor accounts for the time devoted to all Board-wide support services, such as the mailroom staff, the information technology department, the financial services department, and the human resources department. This factor increased from 12.74% to 13.87%, as compared to last year’s decision.
The 2016 full cost level for each fee item developed from the cost factors discussed above is set forth in column 10 of APPENDIX A.
FULL COST RESULTS
to direct labor costs and two of the Board’s three overhead cost factors (Office
Overhead and Board Overhead), coupled with a small decrease
to the Operations Overhead factor, generate bottom-line results for each fee
item in the schedule. The Board’s 133
fee items are being adjusted to cover the complete 2016 full cost levels as compared
to the 2015 Fee Update full cost levels. Listed below is a summary of the full cost
percentage increase changes for the Board’s 133 fee items from FY 2014 to FY
Full Cost Increase Ranges—FY 2014 to FY 2015
FEDERAL REGISTER COST
There is no change in publication costs from the 2014 Fee Update decision. The United States Government Printing Office (GPO) has set publication costs at $159 per column in GPO Circular Letter no. 942 (revised) on June 3, 2015. Thus, the 2014 Fee Update decision publication cost levels remain unchanged and are used here.
1. Formal Complaint Fees:
On July 7, 2011, the STB adopted a final rule that set the fees for full Stand-Alone Cost (SAC) rate complaints (fee item 56(i)) at $350; set the fee for Simplified-SAC rate complaints at $350 (item 56 (ii)); and reduced the fee for all other formal complaints from $20,600 to $350 (item 56 (iv)). Regulations Governing Fees For Servs., EP 542 (Sub-No. 18) (STB served July 7, 2011). These fees remain unchanged and are reflected in the Schedule of Filing Fees in APPENDIX B.
2. Other Original Below-Cost Fees (Capped):
Historically, certain fees have been held well below the full cost level, including trail use condition requests–item 27(i); Amtrak conveyance and compensation proceedings–items 47 and 48, respectively; labor arbitration proceedings–item 60; appeals of Board decisions–item 61(i); and motor carrier undercharge proceedings–item 62. The Board has capped these fees out of a concern that higher fees could have a chilling effect on the ability of some to bring a matter to the Board’s attention, or because certain types of actions were deemed to benefit the general public.
Capped fees are occasionally adjusted, and the Board continues to monitor them. In Regulations Governing Fees for Services Performed in Connection with Licensing & Related Services—2009 Update (2009 Fee Update), EP 542 (Sub-No. 16) (STB served May 5, 2009), the Board raised each of the six fee items identified above from $200 to $250. These fee items were maintained at $250 in Regulations Governing Fees for Services Performed in Connection with Licensing & Related Services—2013 Update (2013 Fee Update), EP 542 (Sub-No. 21) (STB served Aug. 28, 2013). However, in keeping with the 2002 New Fees and the 2009 Fee Update decisions, the Board in its 2014 Fee Update raised these six fee and sub-fee items from $250 to $300. These existing six fees remain unchanged in this proceeding.
Other below-cost fees are: the feeder line development program ($2,600)–item 13; petition for declaratory order involving a dispute over an existing rate or practice ($1,000)–item 58(i); and all other petitions for declaratory order ($1,400)–item 58(ii). These three items will also remain at their current fee levels, and are included in the Schedule of Filing Fees in APPENDIX B.
3. Certain Fees from the 2002 New Fees Decision Held Below-Cost (Capped):
In 2002 New Fees, the Board added 19 new fee items to its user-fee schedule. Six of those items were capped below their full costs for reasons discussed either in the 2002 New Fees final decision or in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for that proceeding. Those capped items are: request for determination of a dispute involving a rail construction that crosses the line of another carrier–item 12(iv); formal complaint involving rail maximum rates filed under the Three Benchmark methodology–former item 56(ii), now 56(iii); request for an order compelling a rail carrier to establish a common carrier rate–former item 56(v), now 56(vi); request for expedited or temporary relief for service emergency or service inadequacy–items 63(i) and 63(ii), respectively; and basic fee for STB adjudicatory services not otherwise covered–item 88.
For the same reasons given above for raising the six original below-cost fees in its 2014 Fee Update, the Board also raised five out of the six capped items in 2002 New Fees from $250 to $300 and they will be held at the $300 levels in this proceeding. The filing fee for Three-Benchmark methodology cases (sub-fee item 56(iii)) will remain $150. These items are also included in the Schedule of Filing Fees in APPENDIX B.
The following table depicts the breakdown of user-fee changes for this proceeding:
OF USER-FEE CHANGES FOR 2016
COMPARISON OF FEE LEVELS FOR YEARS 2015 AND 2016
In order to show clearly the changes to user fees, a comparison table between the new 2016 fee levels and last year’s 2015 fee levels is provided in APPENDIX C.
In Regulations Governing Fees for Services Performed in Connection With Licensing & Related Services, 1 I.C.C.2d 60 (1984), the Interstate Commerce Commission established a formula for rounding fees downward. See id. at 73-74. This agency followed that formula until the 2014 Fee Update, when the Board clarified the fee-rounding regulation at 49 C.F.R. § 1002.3(e) to add the words “all” and “downward,” to more accurately reflect the longstanding and consistently applied policy established in 1984.
NOTICE AND COMMENT REQUIREMENT
The fee changes adopted here generally are a product of the mechanical application of the current update formula at 49 C.F.R. § 1002.3(d), which was adopted through notice and comment procedures in Regulations Governing Fees for Services Performed in Connection With Licensing & Related Services—1987 Update, 4 I.C.C.2d 137 (1987), as well as existing Board policy regarding capped fees. Additionally, this decision does not contain any new proposed fee items but does contain eight sub-items that are an expansion of existing fee item 98 that deals with Waybill requests. The Board continues to rely on the 2014 amendment to the rounding regulation discussed above that codified a long-established and consistently applied Board formula adopted in a published agency decision. Therefore, we find good cause to conclude that notice and comment are unnecessary for this proceeding. See 5 U.S.C. § 553(b); 2013 Fee Update, slip op. at 6.
It is ordered:
1. 49 C.F.R. Part 1002 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as indicated in APPENDIX B. Notice of the final rules adopted here will be transmitted to Congress pursuant to Pub. L. No. 104-121 (Mar. 29, 1996).
2. Notice of this decision will be published in the Federal Register.
3. These rules are effective on September 1, 2016.
By the Board, Chairman Elliott, Vice Chairman Miller, and Commissioner Begeman.
For the reasons set forth in the preamble, title 49, chapter X, part 1002, of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:
Part 1002 - FEES
1. The authority citation for part 1002 continues to read as follows:
Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(A) and 553; 31 U.S.C. 9701 and 49 U.S.C. 1321(a).
2. Section 1002.1 is amended by revising paragraphs (a) and (d), (f)(1) and (g)(6) and (7) as follows:
§ 1002.1 Fees for record search, review, copying, certification, and related service.
* * * * *
* * *
(d) Photocopies of tariffs, reports and other public documents, at a rate of $1.50 per letter or legal size exposure. A minimum charge of $7.50 will be made for this service.
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(f) * * *
(1) A fee of $74.00 per hour for professional staff time will be charged when it is required to fulfill a request for ADP data.
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(g) * * *
(6) * * *
(7) The fee for photocopies shall be $1.50 per letter or legal size exposures with a minimum of $7.50.
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3. In § 1002.2, paragraph (f) is revised as follows:
(f) Schedule of filing fees.
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