Developers may share costs of impact fees

— The city's most recent foray into the untested waters of impact fees will come up for air tonight during a two-hour work session with City Council.

Paul Tischler of Tischler and Associates will present a report to City Council tonight on the feasibility of imposing impact fees on new development so as to allow city facilities to keep up with the rate of growth. The study will cost the city $70,900.

As it is, the needs of new developments be they police, transit or recreation-oriented are paid for out of the sales tax-heavy general fund. With recent large-scale building developments such as the new hospital and the Steamboat Grand, the city has begun to look at making new projects share the cost of new city services and infrastructure.

The concept of making development pay for the needs it creates seems easy enough. The practice of imposing impact fees, however, is a complicated one. To determine the impact of new development, the city will have to project just how much the city will likely grow in the next 10 years and figure out how much that growth will tax the city's resources.

Tischler estimated a 2,408-person population increase in terms of year-round residents and 3,242-person increase in seasonal residents over the next 10 years.

A few new hotels, for instance, bringing in 100 new guests every week, may force the city to hire a new police officer to deal with the increase in demand for public safety services. The hotels may likewise tax the resources of the transit department, which must send extra buses to deal with the higher volume of passengers.

Tischler has indicated the maximum supportable impact fees could be as high as $4,458 for a detached single-family residential home and $3,146 per 1,000 square feet of a restaurant.

Like the proposed linkage program, the impact fees are intended to make new development foot the bill for the needs it creates. The linkage program focuses on creating affordable housing for employees of new businesses. Tischler, in fact, looked at the feasibility of impact fees for affordable housing, though he came to the conclusion they would not work.

The fees could be put to one of four uses: parks; recreation and open space; city buildings and equipment; and public safety and transit.

Impact fees would not have to go to the voters to approve, said City Finance Director Don Taylor.

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