Archive for Thursday, November 30, 2006

Impact fee debate one of fairness

November 30, 2006

The Eudora City Council is once again considering development fees for new construction hooking up to city utilities. The terms of the debate are familiar with the expectation development should pay for itself against the fear too aggressive a move on development fees will actually stifle growth as builders and homeowners look for cheaper places to build and buy.

Fundamentally, that debate should be about fairness. It isn't fair for Eudora's newest residents moving into recently completed homes to pay more than their share of the city's future utility needs. At the same time, it isn't fair for Eudora's established residents who have already paid for the utilities that serve their homes to pay for expansion of water, sewer and electrical capacity to make more development possible.

A city administrator of our past acquaintance explained the fairness of development fees by comparing cities to corporations. Established residents were like stockholders, he said, enjoying the dividends of their past investment. New residents needed to buy "shares" in the community holdings.

Again, it is not about hindering growth by pricing development out of the market -- which would be hard to do considering that unlike Eudora every city in Johnson County has an excise tax for street improvements. It is about development paying to replace the capacity it consumes.

Those who welcome growth should realize passing costs to established homeowners could stimulate a revolt that could be much more stifling to expansion than development fees.

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