Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Charging impact fees to new homes in the Steamboat Lake area was ruled out at a county meeting Tuesday.
Charging the fees in Stagecoach was not nixed, but was not widely supported, either.
Impact fees are one-time charges to new homes to help pay for new roads and service demands created by the new development. They are not charged to existing homes and are not property taxes or special assessments. A ballpark amount for fees put toward road improvements is $1,600.
"I think this is an issue that has a lot more questions that we haven't had answered tonight," Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said at the meeting, during which a draft feasibility report on impact fees for the county was presented.
Overall, the report showed that impact fees probably wouldn't fund a significant portion of needed road improvements in Stagecoach and that costs of implementing such fees may not be worth the benefit of collecting the fees for emergency services in the Steamboat Lake areas.
Don Elliot of Clarion Associates, the company that put together the report, stressed to county commissioners that the decision to implement fees was, in many senses, a "judgment call" about what future needs could be and how much new residents should pay for those needs. At the same time, there are many specific constraints on how and when impact fees can be used.
Routt County commissioners funded the feasibility study as a way to consider impact fees for helping to fund road improvements and services in Stagecoach and Steamboat Lake. The county wanted to research all opportunities for having development pay its own way, Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said.
"This was never intended to be a silver bullet," he said.
The draft report focused on using impact fees to buy a new water tender for the North Routt Fire Protection District and to pay for improvements on Routt County Road 14 near Stagecoach.
David Moss, chairman of the North Routt Fire Board, said the district did not support such impact fees. It wanted to keep good relationships with its voters and not charge a fee without voter input, he said.
"Thank you very much for your effort, but I don't think we want to play," Moss said.
Bea Westwater, president of the Stagecoach Property Owners Association, said she thought that Stagecoach was being "singled out" to pay for improvements to C.R. 14 and that new homes in other areas also should have to pay. Ways to pay for emergency services in the area should be examined, too, she said.
Questions also arose about whether impact fees or other funding mechanisms were necessary to improve C.R. 129, which goes through North Routt County.
The final feasibility report will come next. From there, county commissioners will have to decide whether they want to implement the fees and spend $20,000 or more to do the proper studies before such fees could be put in place.
The initial report is available online at www.co.routt.co.us.
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