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9/17/2013 11:33:00 AM
Williams City Council reduces impact fees
After Sept. 12 vote, city to only charge fees for new development in water and waste water categories
City Manager Brandon Buchanan discusses impact fees at the Sept. 12 Williams City Council meeting.
City Manager Brandon Buchanan discusses impact fees at the Sept. 12 Williams City Council meeting.

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

In an effort to promote economic development, the city of Williams will get rid of five impact fee categories starting next month.

The change comes after a unanimous vote at the Sept. 12 Williams City Council meeting.

Under a 2011 state law, cities must complete a study for the categories of impact fees they want to maintain in order to continue collecting them after August 1, 2014.

The council has already discussed only continuing to collect impact fees for the water and wastewater categories.

"Those are the two areas where we're going to have the most need if development starts occurring," said City Manager Brandon Buchanan. "The rest of them we can probably handle by ourselves outside of impact fees and so we're not necessarily interested in including those in the study and being able to continue collecting those after next August."

Not including the remaining categories in the study would allow them to lapse in August. Those categories are police, fire, streets, library and parks and recreation.

"We know we're going to have to drop those fees within a short time anyway," Mayor John Moore said. "Staff's recommending, and I also agree, that we should just go ahead and do it now. It might give us a little bit of a boost."

Moore added that cities can't use impact fees to serve existing people.

"Our city thinks that we can only justify growth in water and sewer," he said. "Our consultants aren't even sure we can do that until they do the study."

However, Vice Mayor Don Dent said the city can use water and wastewater impact fees to pay off existing bonds.

The council's resolution to suspend the five categories other than water and wastewater will go into effect Oct. 1.

The council tabled the issue at its Aug. 22 meeting when Dent asked for more information about current development projects. Dent was concerned that it could seem like the council made its decision for a particular project.

Buchanan said no projects have currently been submitted, and the soonest any projects may be submitted is within about a month.

A staff report from Buchanan to the mayor and council showed the estimated impact fees for commercial projects that can apply for permits between 31 days and more than 90 days. With all seven categories of impact fees, the city estimated it would have collected $1,281,621 in impact fees from the anticipated projects. With the categories reduced to water and wastewater, the city estimates it will collect $824,807 in impact fees from the anticipated projects.

While the city will collect less money with the reduced fee categories, keeping all seven categories in place could have deterred developers from building in the first place.

"Through discussion with potential developers, at least several significant projects hinge in large part on impact fees," Buchanan wrote in his staff report, adding that the projects will create an estimated 120 jobs. "If some of the projects do not come to fruition as a result of excessive impact fees some of those jobs will not materialize either."

The council also unanimously approved a proposal from Pat Walker Consulting to carry out the impact fee study. Walker's proposal, including three phases of the study, came out to $84,000. Buchanan estimates participation from the city engineer could be an additional $30,000 to $40,000.

The city's fiscal year 2014 budget includes $100,000 for the study. However, the study will probably carry over into the next fiscal year, so part of the cost could be included in the next budget, according to Buchanan's staff report.

"It appears to me that the cost is great, but it's almost something that we've got to do," Moore said. "If we don't do it all impact fees go away."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Article comment by: Keith Wilmot

Sounds like some of our wonderful elected officials might just be padding their pockets. So now the taxpayers will have to foot the bill and the rich developers get a pass. Great work. Remember their names. We'll give them the boot at the next election.

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: Really? Great City of Williams Leaders?

What a huge step backwards!

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: oh geez

Where is the $400,000 going to come from Buchanan??? The current businesses and residents will have to pay for the costs of new businesses to come to town. Great going guys!

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: just hit another pot hole

Are you guys for real???? You can handle the STREETS???? What a joke!!! Williams can't maintain the streets now, with any new "economic development" existing roads will be used more and new roads will be needed. The city can handle that? NOT.

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