Archive for Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Council considers impact fees

November 22, 2006

When discussing the possibility of raising sewer impact fees Thursday, Councilman Bill Whitten saw the Eudora City Council straddling a thin line.

On one side, the city needs to remain affordable and attractive to developers. On the other, it also must generate money to build and maintain the infrastructure needed to grow.

"You're walking that fine line," Whitten said. "We're trying to, in a way, add a bit more revenue that's going to be coming from development and new home buyers."

City Administrator Cheryl Beatty brought the issue to the council after finishing research on the rates of nearby cities.

"Several of the projects we have ahead of us are due to us growing," Beatty said.

The impact fee would be charged to new homeowners to help defray the cost of creating new sewers and maintain the city's current system.

Beatty told councilmembers they must decide if the city's current rates are fair and equitable or if they should raise rates to counteract any further impact to the system.

The city currently charges $3,250 for a single residential connection to a 5/8-inch sewer line. De Soto charges $3,200 for a similar hookup. Lenexa charges $4,000.

"We're not out of line," Councilman Dan Gregg said. "We're not the highest, but we're not the lowest."

Eventually, the impact fee falls back on the homeowner's lap, Gregg said.

"Essentially you're charging the new homeowner is what it comes down to," Gregg said. "You're not charging the builder."

Brett Fritzel ---- husband of Councilwoman Lori Fritzel ---- spoke to the council as a developer. His company developed the Meadowlark subdivisions.

He remembered eight years ago when building permits were closer to $1,500. At that time, the council decided to raise impact fees.

"The sewer tap fees or development fees doubled overnight one night at a city council meeting without real warning," Fritzel said.

Any more sharp increases could hurt continued growth in the city, Fritzel said.

"We need to try and find some kind of balance somewhere," Fritzel said.

With all the development fees added together, Eudora is an expensive place to develop, Fritzel said.

"When we add up the impact fees, it's much greater than anywhere," Fritzel said.

Mayor Tom Pyle said it's possible to price out of a market.

It could happen to Eudora if it goes too high on impact fees, he said.

"It's supply and demand, which is a lot of it, and I know a lot of people who want to live in Eudora," Pyle said.

If the price gets too high to live in town, the people won't come, Pyle said.

"We don't want to price ourselves out," Pyle said.

The developer suggested the city focus on raising funds for the infrastructure by increasing its mill levy rather than impact fees.

During discussion, Beatty told the council the city must broaden its tax base.

"We cannot self-support very much longer on a residential tax base," Beatty said. "We got to get commercial over here or we're going to sink."

The city must still achieve a sensible balance with its impact fees, Beatty said.

"You do have to find a careful balance," Beatty said. "We are within range. If you were going to raise the impact fee at all, I wouldn't suggest you raise it very much."

Councilman Whitten suggested the council look at the city's overall development costs before deciding whether or not to raise impact fees.

Beatty told the council she'd continue researching and bring findings back at a later date.

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