News

City council considers temporary impact fee reduction

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

After enacting impact fees in June 2010, the Sequim City Council is considering a temporary reduction in these same fees.

 

A proposed ordinance shown at the Monday, May 23, council meeting asks for a three-month — tentatively July 1-Sept. 30 — 50-percent reduction in parks and transportation fees of about $2,400 per home permitted.

 

City Manager Steve Burkett said the proposal comes from community discussions and a series of articles on local real estate trends over the past few years.

 

“Some have suggested the reason we don’t have many single-family homes being built is that the city fees are too high, specifically the impact fees,” Burkett said.

 

The city in 2005 had 211 single-family building permits issued, 19 in 2010 and four so far in 2011.

 

Burkett said there are 2,547 single-family building permits waiting to be constructed and plats already with services and preliminary subdivision plots. He said last year’s absorption rate shows the city has a 100-year supply of lots.

 

“I don’t think impact fees are the factor that resulted in this reduction in the number of single-family permits,” Burkett said.

 

“We all know there’s a worldwide reduction in economic activity.  I read in an article that the number of single-family building construction is the lowest it’s been since reporting that information began.”

 

In a report prepared by Burkett, city attorney Craig Ritchie, and administrative services director Karen Goschen, they said that to reduce the parks and transportation impact fees by 50 percent would be worthwhile to evaluate the impact during the 2011 construction season. If the reductions stimulated more construction of single-family housing, it would be beneficial to the local economy and city revenues, they said.

Initial response

Councilors mostly seemed in favor of reviewing the proposal at least three times, with a public hearing.

Don Hall said he sees nothing wrong with the ordinance and wants to see how it works.

 

Erik Erichsen said the opposite.

 

“This appears to be more of a political posturing thing than of any kind of substance to it, which is going to waste time of the staff and council,” Erichsen said. “There are other things we need to do. I frankly think we should table any discussion about this until 2016.”

 

Ted Miller wrote a letter in essence agreeing with the political posturing sentiment and is opposed to any fee suspension.

 

“We worked for years to have impact fees and I don’t want us to quickly repeal half of it,” Miller said.

 

A second review of the fee will be presented at the June 13 city council meeting at Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St. Contact the City of Sequim, 152 W. Cedar St., at 683-4139.

 

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