Clark County approves keeping development fees low

Commissioner Madore wanted more time to pursue further fee reductions

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: January 8, 2013, 11:20 PM

 

Clark County Commissioner David Madore was the lone dissenter in a vote to keep development impact fees low for the coming year. But he said he doesn't want the reasons for his vote to get "spun."

Madore said before the vote that he's not in favor of raising traffic impact fees levied against new development in the county, but he was voting against the proposed extension of a fee reduction as a protest that the issue was brought before the board with little preparation.

Madore's "nay" vote, he said, was his appeal to delay the issue for one more week so the county could explore the possibility of reducing the fees even more.

"(This vote) is not to extend high rates," Madore said. "Instead (it's) as an appeal to do our homework for one week."

The extension, which passed 2-1 at the commissioners' Tuesday morning meeting, allows developers to lock in traffic impact fee rates that were originally approved between 2004 and 2007. The fees during those years are set at a lower rate than the current market price, and the extension is intended to assist builders by keeping costs low. Commissioners have approved the extension each year since 2010.

Madore said his vote against the extension is because there wasn't enough information available on how much the county could expect to collect in property tax income if impact fees were reduced further. He also said he was disappointed there was no legal counsel available to explain a process for lowering the fees further, or removing them altogether.

"It may seem like we're giving businesses a good deal, but maybe it's actually a big hit," Madore said after the meeting. "I want to see the numbers."

No need to wait, others say

Commissioners Tom Mielke and Steve Stuart both said there was no need to postpone the vote.

"To a developer, time is money," Mielke said. "(Waiting) sends a bad message to those who want to move forward."

Mielke added that a single week wasn't enough time to discuss further reducing fees, and both he and Stuart appeared dubious that such a task could be undertaken without public hearings.

"I don't think we're going to do away with traffic impact fees in seven days," Mielke said.

But both Mielke and Stuart said they liked where the discussion may eventually go.

"This is to extend the break for one year," Stuart said. "We're all agreeing there is a much bigger discussion we have to have."

Madore said he hopes the commissioners will take a look at further reducing impact fees within the next few months.


Erik Hidle: 360-735-4542; http://twitter.com/col_clarkgov; erik.hidle@columbian.com.