City hikes fees on developers to defray growth costs

Mayor wishes increases could have been bigger

Posted 4/8/19

City council voted to increase the amount of one-time fees the city collects from land development to pay for increased use of city amenities, though some officials wish the rates could be even …

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City hikes fees on developers to defray growth costs

Mayor wishes increases could have been bigger

Posted

City council voted to increase the amount of one-time fees the city collects from land development to pay for increased use of city amenities, though some officials wish the rates could be even higher.

“Development needs to pay for development more than it does right now,” Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman said.

Littleton instituted “impact fees” in 2013, according to a presentation by city Finance Director Tiffany Hooten at the April 2 city council meeting. The fees apply to residential and commercial development, and are used to defray growth-related costs to the Littleton Museum, Bemis Library, police services and city facilities. Other fees go toward transportation costs.

Under a fee revision plan prepared by BBC Research and Consulting, impact fees will increase from $3,975 per new dwelling unit constructed to $4,522, and non-residential fees will increase from $3.54 per square foot to $3.82. The increases were based in part on more precise valuations of city assets and debt, according to the plan.

The changes will add up to an estimated $81,000 in increased fees in 2019, according to the analysis.

“Budgetwise, that's nothing,” said Councilmember Jerry Valdes at a March 5 study session that discussed the fee increases.

The amount of impact fees collected by the city in recent years fluctuates widely, according to the city budget. Impact fee revenue was $729,000 in 2015, $3.1 million in 2016, $1 million in 2017, and $667,000 in 2018. The city anticipated impact fee revenue of $696,500 in the 2019 budget.

Brinkman said she was disappointed the rates didn't climb higher.

“I'm not 100 percent comfortable with (BBC's) analysis,” Brinkman said. “I'd like to see a greater, more rigorous review of this stuff.”

For example, Brinkman said, she'd like impact fees geared toward parks and recreation costs.

The city contracts with South Suburban Parks and Recreation to oversee the city's parks, and the district has been asking for hefty sums to refurbish local playgrounds in recent years, Brinkman said.

Impact fees will see greater scrutiny and reworking in coming months and years, City Manager Mark Relph said.

“The intent is to fully explore other alternatives to assess impact fees,” Relph said at the March 5 study session, though it will have to wait until the city's new comprehensive plan is complete, which is scheduled for October.

“We'll take on a much bigger effort then,” Relph said.

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