IMPERIAL — Business owners and developers voiced their concerns during a workshop Monday, Sept. 9, on the city's proposed increase in fees.
“We want to make sure that the prices don’t go so high that it either drives us out of doing business with the city of Imperial or raises housing prices that the local community can no longer afford them,” said Marty Coyne of Powersports.
Coyne was referring to the fees associated with the Development Impact Fee Report and the Water and Sewer Capacity Fee Study, a report presented at a workshop conducted at the Imperial City Council Chambers.
“Impact fees are the city’s way to recoup costs for the impacts on their systems. For sewer and water it would be any upgrades they needed to do,” said Russell Roben, who represented Duggins Construction. He was one of several contractors and developers present at the workshop who showed resistance to the fee increase.
Coyne had suggested that a 2% incremental increase would made it bearable for developers. But with the fee increase of more than 30% for park fees, or circulation (streets) to over 240%, the cumulative effect becomes substantial. Should that study be approved, “We just pass those costs to the home buyers. Overall, it affects the local home buyer more than the local citizen,” Coyne said.
“Whatever the appraised value of the house is, that's what you can sell it for,” Roben said. A developer calculates the construction cost plus any fees. When the cost is not profitable, the developer will stop building. “And there is very small profit margin for housing,” according to Roben.
Roben called attention to the circulation impact fee (traffic related and road improvement) increase of over 240% for residential fees in 2019 than in 2010; an increase which Roben stated as unreasonable. “That drives the cost up and so that the margin of profitability is shrinking by the day.”
Circulation is just one cost included in the residential fees. The other costs include administrative facilities, fire facilities, law enforcement facilities, park and recreation facilities.
“We did a report and provided the study to all developers so we can answer their questions and concerns,” said Othon Mora, community development director of the city of Imperial.
Reactions from developers abounded. Some developers spoke multiple times but allowed others an opportunity to air their concerns.
Stan Weiler, a consultant from Howes-Weiler-Landy Planning and Engineering, mostly responded to the questions and concerns of developers.
According to Mora, the city will provide developers with written responses and provide an update to the report. Once completed, a new workshop will be scheduled with the city council within the next two weeks.
“We need them; they need us,” said Coyne, who says he enjoys doing business with the city and would like to continue doing so. “I hope we can work together to accomplish benefits mutual to both parties.”