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3/19/2013 11:33:00 AM
Williams City Council members mull over eliminating impact fees
New law requires cities to complete Infrastructure Improvement Plan to collect fees after August 2014
Williams Mayor John Moore discusses possibly eliminating impact fees during the March 14 Williams City Council meeting. Marissa Freireich/WGCN
Williams Mayor John Moore discusses possibly eliminating impact fees during the March 14 Williams City Council meeting. Marissa Freireich/WGCN
City of Williams Attorney Kellie Peterson explains the Infrastructure Improvement Plan process during a discussion about Impact Fees during the March 14 Williams City Council meeting. Marissa Freireich/WGCN
City of Williams Attorney Kellie Peterson explains the Infrastructure Improvement Plan process during a discussion about Impact Fees during the March 14 Williams City Council meeting. Marissa Freireich/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


The Williams City Council discussed the potential costs of continuing to collect impact fees under a new law as well as the potential costs of suspending them at its March 14 regular meeting.

Under a state law adopted in 2011, cities must complete an Infrastructure Improvement Plan in order to collect impact fees after August 1, 2014. A professional such as an engineer must develop the plan, and the plan needs to be updated every five years.

One option is for the city to continue collecting impact fees for now and then suspend them when the deadline arrives.

"It's going to cost you more to pay those professionals to develop that study than you're going to be getting with impact fees," City Attorney Kellie Peterson said.

City Manager Brandon Buchanan said during last fiscal year Williams collected about $6,700 in impact fees.

"Maybe it's appropriate to suspend those right now while nothing's going on and then in five years, ten years when things start taking off again, if hopefully they do, we can go through the process and put those impact fees back in place at that point," Buchanan said.

Vice Mayor Don Dent said suspending the fees could be costly.

"If you don't have them in place and you have a large major project come in, which we actually have one looking at us right now... you can't put them in place fast enough to impact that project. You might pass several million dollars just like that," Dent said, snapping his fingers.

Dent added that he wanted to know how the city would pay its bills without impact fees.

"The last thing I want to do is go tell all the existing residents here that we're going to raise their property tax so that more developments can come in," he said. "A lot of people don't realize we have very low property tax because of the impact fees."

Peterson said the city can still collect some money from new developments.

"Not having impact fees will affect your ability to collect funds for off-site improvements, but generally as long as someone is coming to you with a rezone...you can still require those on-site improvements including the sewer, the water, the streets, and all of those things can still be required," Peterson said. "It's more difficult to pay for the off-site fees."

She explained that the city can do things like raise tie-in rates for sewer and water systems to help offset the lack of impact fees.

The other option is to complete an Infrastructure Improvement Plan to allow the city to continue collecting impact fees after the deadline. If council members want to go this route, they need to decide soon.

Peterson explained that the process could take close to a year. The city would first need to put out a request for proposals. Once the study was complete, the city would need to hold several public meetings before it could adopt an ordinance.

Buchanan also asked for a quick decision, saying he would have to include the cost for the study in next year's budget.

Buchanan has found that larger cities are paying between $50,000 and $285,000 to complete their studies, but he did not hear from any cities that are similar in size to Williams.

Before making a decision, Dent said he wanted more information about how much the study would cost and how the city would pay its bills without impact fees. The council expects to discuss the issue again at the first meeting in April.

The council also took the following action:

Unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Williams Unified School District for its Safe Routes to School bus loop project.

Unanimously approved not participating in a feasibility study for a proposed pipeline by 2050 from Page to Flagstaff with a spur from Flagstaff to Williams.

Unanimously approved awarding the 2013 General Plan Update contract to Counts Planning.

Unanimously approved an Interagency Service Agreement with Arizona Department of Administration General Accounting Office.

Unanimously approved an agreement to relocate an easement on North Grand Canyon Boulevard.

In other council news, members discussed the employment status of the magistrate and judges pro-tem. See next week's edition for more coverage.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Article comment by: Bobby Patricca

I was at this meeting, and the big problem is that, as I understand it, beginning in August of 2014, the state will no longer allow impact fee's to be used blindly. Basically, for example, if someone pays an impact fee for a new house at Highland Meadows, the City cannot take those funds and use them to put in a new water line on Rodeo Road. The fee's have to be applied directly to the "impact" of that particular project. That's how I understand it, anyway. It's an interesting situation facing the Council, and I am curious as to how they will ultimately figure out what to do.

Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Article comment by: old timer

Please listen to Don on this one. He has been around the development block a few times. You have to have impact fees in place! If not then the property tax will go up to pay for every developers water and sewer lines and probably their streets too!!



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