Sun, Oct. 20

Impact fees get chilly reception in Clarkdale
Possible adoption of fees slated for July 24

The Clarkdale Town Council heard opposition from residents and business owners Tuesday regarding proposed impact fees.

On May 8, the Council adopted the notice to assess development fees for civic facilities, library, parks, water, wastewater and police. The published notice of intent informed people of Tuesday's public hearing. Possible adoption of impact fees is scheduled for July 24.

The hearing began with an overview by Marshall Eyerman with MuniFinancial, the town's consultant firm. Eyerman and Quenelle Quartararo conducted the impact fee study for the town.

The town is facing significant growth, Eyerman said. The town is expected to grow 80 percent over the next 13 years, bringing the population from 3,723 in 2006 to 6,822 in 2020. The problem with that much growth is the inadequate capital to handle it. "So, you look to have new growth pay its fair share moving forward," he told the council and residents.

Impact fees are one-time charges assessed when someone pulls building permits to develop a new residential, commercial and industrial structure. Municipalities use the collected fees for construction of infrastructure or addition of services needed to accommodate the expected growth. The intent is to not make existing residents pay for new development.

However, current taxpayers who attended Tuesday night's hearing listed reasons why they disapprove of the fees.

"Our current and future economy depends on future businesses relocating here," Robin Prud'homme Bauer, president of the Clarkdale Chamber of Commerce, said. "Impact fees will negatively impact businesses setting up here."

In addition, she said, developers are merely going to pass on the cost of impact fees, thus affecting future hopeful homebuyers.

According to the proposed fee schedule from MuniFinancial's report, total fees per single-family residential dwelling for civic facilities, library, parks, police, wastewater and water come to $10,987, with fees increasing if a larger meter size is installed.

Impact fees for commercial developments range from $400 to $560 per 1,000 square feet, plus an additional $4,107 to $328,576 (depending on meter size) to connect to the town's water and wastewater. The $328,576 fee is for an eight-inch meter. Commercial developments are exempt from paying library or park fees because it is believed commercial developments have little impact on these services and town amenities.

If adopted, Clarkdale's fees would be higher than both Camp Verde's voter-approved fees and Cottonwood's proposed fees. They would be about on par with Sedona's impact fees. The Town of Jerome does not have impact fees.

In addition to Prudde'homme Bauer's remarks, resident Phil Terbell expressed unease with the proposed charges as they relate to people who are in areas of Clarkdale not served by municipal water or wastewater.

Terbell will be building a new structure 100 yards from his current residence. He believes he should be exempt from paying the impact fees when he pulls building permits because that area of Clarkdale is not serviced by the town's water or wastewater system.

"I drilled my own well, operate my own septic," he said. "I should not have to pay."

Mayor Doug Von Gausig replied that the reason new developments in areas not served by the town's utilities will have to pay impact fees is because the town expects to be built out in the future, and those areas are expected to then be on the municipal systems.

Terbell said if that is the case, builders should only have to pay the fees when the town services become available.

Resident Ellie Bauer said she opposes the impact fees because "there has never been a time for citizens to be involved" in the establishment of them. "Successful fees [in other state municipalities] have come with participation from the public from the beginning." She also said the "housing component is bothersome," in that the proposed fees "cut short affordable housing desperately needed" in the town. "The fees make it difficult for someone to come in and develop affordable housing."

Following public input, Town Attorney Robert Pecharich read into record a letter from Verde Valley Professional Center Partners, LLC. The company owns land at Main Street and Broadway and is also opposed to the impact fees, according to the letter.

Nobody from the public spoke in favor of the fees.

Tuesday's Town Council agenda item was only a public hearing on impact fees. No action was taken.

Pecharich said impact fees are authorized by state statute and based on reasonable fees determined necessary. When fees are collected for a particular impact, such as police, they must be used only for that cause.

Street impact fees are not included in Clarkdale's proposed fees; however, the town is also studying them.

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