Steamboat Springs I believe that the present City Council agrees with Jim Engelken's view that growth needs to pay its own way and supports the concept of impact fees.
However, a funny thing happened on the way to collecting those impact fees. Our state legislature adopted Senate Bill 15 in the second special session this past October. Senate Bill 15 cats a giant shadow on the City Council's efforts to have growth pay its own way.
One of the big reasons the City Council passed impact fees was to be able to charge impact fees at the time of building permits for projects that have been previously approved, some having been approved many years ago.
Senate Bill 15, heavily backed by the development and homebuilding lobby, attempts to restrict the application of impact fees, even those that had been adopted like ours, to those projects that are just being applied for now.
If we are prevented from collecting impact fees from already approved projects, revenues generated from impact fees would be substantially reduced and it would seriously undermine our intent of making growth pay its own way.
In addition, many members of the community have complained that our existing impact fee charges the same amount, $4,000, for every new home over 1,500 square feet, regardless of size. Because of the impact fee methodology developed by our consultant, we are unable to charge on a per-square-foot basis, in which larger homes would pay more and smaller homes would pay less. Many citizens feel that is unfair.
Also, many constituents in our community feel that the electors should vote upon a matter as important as charges on new development. It is hard to argue that the people should not be entitled to vote on an issue such as an excise tax.
For all of these reasons, the City Council felt it was appropriate to revisit the existing impact fees, not because we favor subsidizing growth, but rather because we feel that making growth pay its own way should be fair, equitable, legally enforceable and enacted with the consent of our constituents.
While I agree with some points Mr. Engelken makes concerning impact fees, I take strong exception to his emotional tone, imposition of alleged intent on behalf of this pr4esent City Council (which is comprised of seven very different individuals with individual minds), and the attack on the integrity of anyone writing an opinion that differs from his.
If we as citizens do not allow each other to express our views and opinions in a non-confrontational manner, we have no hope of understanding one another or the facts behind these complicated issues. When we attack one another, no one listens we are too busy reacting.
If our community is to solve our many complex and serious issues, we need to do this together with open minds and mutual respect for differing views.
Kathy Connell is president of the Steamboat Springs City Council.