City Council mulls over impact fees, tables items

Washington City, May 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY – Items involving impact fees related to stormwater and public safety were tabled by the Washington City Council Wednesday after concerns were raised by area home builders and council members.

Continued from a previous meeting, the City Council held public hearings Wednesday night to discuss and vote on proposed ordinances adopting new impact fee rates based on updated stormwater capital facilities and public safety capital facility plans. Items attached to the stormwater plan included recommendations to raise impact fees for new development in some parts of the city, while lowering it for others.

The impact fees are one-time charges to new construction that are applied to the expansion of city services to accommodate continued growth. They cover such services as culinary water systems, power, sewer, storm drainage, transportation, public safety, and parks and recreation.

Lester Dalton, a project manager for Washington City, presented the stormwater impact fee study to the City Council. Two options were presented:

  • Divide the city into seven major drainage basin zones. Each would have its own impact fee based on project needs and developable area within the zone. The current, city-side impact fee for stormwater is $4,630 per acre. If adopted, impact fees in a western portion of Green Springs will be the lowest at $520 per acre, while the impact fee in the Washington Fields Road zone would be the highest at $6,222 per acre.
  • Lower the city-wide stormwater impact fee to $4,214 per acre.

Mari Smith, executive director of the Southern Utah Home Builders Association, which represents around 540 area builders, expressed concerns about the proposal to divide the city into sections, particularly those that jumped in costs.

“When impact fees are raised it affects the price of the home,” Smith said.

SUBHA has been involved some in the impact fee studies, and Smith thanked the city for allowing that, however, SUHBA will “strongly oppose” the impact fee plan should the city choose to go adopt the zone plan with its varied costs, she said.

Because of the increased rates and other concerns connected to the impact fee study, Smith asked the City Council to table the vote and continue to work with SUHBA to iron out lingering issues.

James Sullivan, of S&S Homes, and Chris Salisbury, of Salisbury Homes, also approached the City Council in opposition to impact fees being raised.

“It is a significant decision,” Salisbury said.

The City Council discussed the matter once the public hearing closed. Councilman Thad Seegmiller said he was not overly fond of the basin zone idea.

“I have a hard time with this zone methodology,” Seegmiller said. “It’s inequitable for me. I like the idea of spreading (the cost) across the city.”

Councilman Kress Staheli said he saw the city as one whole zone, and not one to be divided up.

Based on input from the home builders and some council members’ reservations, adoption of any changes to the current stormwater impact fee rate was tabled until the next council meeting in two weeks.

A vote on the adoption of an updated public safety impact fee was also tabled due to problems related to proper public notification and additional SUHBA concerns. The current public safety impact fee is $200. The new impact fee would be raised to $564.

These fees would be applied to the building of a new police station and other public safety-related facilities.

Washington City Manager Roger Carter said postponing both items will allow the city time to continue reviewing the impact fee proposals and work with SUHBA.

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Copyright St. George News, Inc., 2014 , all rights reserved.


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