In addition to their term limits ballot question, the county commissioners have placed a second question on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
The commissioners want to find out how voters think about using money from impact fees on new development to help pay for county roads, public safety and public health and human services.
"We want to let the voters decide," said Commissioner Doug Atchley.
The county government already has legislative authority to impose impact fees, explained Susan Hansen, county administrator. But the complicating twist to this ballot question is that the county needs voter permission to keep and spend any money it might collect from impact fees. The question essentially seeks to "De-bruce" revenue from any and all impact fees the county may in future decide to impose.
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights Amendment to the state Constitution (TABOR) requires the voters' approval. Otherwise, any new government revenue raised from impact fees could not be kept and spent by the government, and it would have to be given back to the voters.
Three years ago the county completed a study of growth impacts on county facilities. The study was needed so that the county could demonstrate there is an actual need for impact fee money.
The county has not adopted impact fees and is not collecting money from them now. If voters approve the Nov. 6 measure and allow government to keep and spend impact fees, the commissioners will likely adopt fees soon thereafter.
From 2005 through 2010 voters "De-bruced" (i.e., allowed the county to keep and spend) certain property tax revenue for use only in road building. It was revenue that otherwise would have been returned to voters through a lower mill levy. That program, which the commissioners decided not to ask voters to renew, has expired. It collected up to $2 million per year for county road improvement work. An impact fee for roads would be expected to raise far less than the now-expired property tax program did between 2005 and 2010.
During a commissioner discussion of impact fees in August last year, officials speculated that, as example, a $35 million, 20-year bonded road building program would need a minimum of $1.7 million in annual revenues to finance. At that level, a $1,000-per-unit new development impact fee would require 1,700 new development units a year.
In 2001, the county's highest level ever for new unit development, there were 235 that would have qualified for impact fee assessment. At $1,000 per unit, that number of units would raise $235,000, a far cry from the $2 million per year the county's former property tax program brought in.
"We never expected that (an impact fee) would cover all our needs. It would be one more (revenue source) to have," Hansen said.
As of a year ago, there were an estimated 1,200 undeveloped lots in the unincorporated county that impact fees could be assessed against.
The commissioners have not set an amount for their proposed impact fee, and there is no amount mentioned in the ballot question. If the ballot question is approved by voters the commissioners would set the fee by resolution and could change it whenever deemed necessary. During last August's discussions, figures in the $1,900 to $5,000 per unit range were mentioned.
It is possible the county would also have to require some kind of a new development permit to serve as a point of assessment and collection of fees.blog comments powered by Disqus