Sunday, December 18, 2011

Development fees revised

Admonishing state lawmakers and the homebuilders' lobby for interfering in city business, Goodyear officials reluctantly revised an ordinance that allows the city to collect development fees.

The anger stemmed from a state law signed in April that made substantial changes to how cities and towns collect and spend development-impact fees, which homebuilders pay for each new home built.

The fees play a significant role in funding city efforts to keep up with growth, and they have been used for things such as public works, technology projects, and building neighborhood parks and municipal buildings.

Reducing the fees will mean a drop in city services, City Council members argued. In the future, libraries and other facilities may have to be built in phases.

"I just want to say how disturbing it is that the state thinks they know what we need best," Councilman Bill Stipp said. "There are so many city facilities and operations that our citizens have expected from us that we are now going to have to either eliminate or greatly reduce."

The council unanimously voted for changes that must be made by Jan. 1 to conform with a revised definition of "necessary public services."

The law, Senate Bill 1525, eliminates the city's ability to assess fees for general government and public-works needs. It also restricts the amount of fees that can be collected for libraries, swimming pools and parks.

Also, impact fees cannot be used to buy equipment that supports public services, except for police and fire.

Goodyear officials estimate most of the development fees the city collects will be reduced under the law.

The fees for new homes north of Interstate 10 will be reduced by 44 percent, from $5,553 to $3,104. Fees for new homes south of the freeway would see an 18 percent decrease, from $15,198 to $12,434.

by John Yantis The Arizona Republic Dec. 9, 2011 02:14 PM

Development fees revised

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