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Hamilton discusses impact fees

By Michael Howell

At the last Committee of the Whole meeting of the Hamilton City Council on July 10, a discussion and presentation concerning proposed transportation impact fees drew a protest from a few councilors. Councilors Lynette Helgeland and Joe Petrusaitis both complained that impact fees were not on the agenda for discussion. What was on the agenda was discussion about water and sewer rates.

Special Projects Director Dennis Stranger said it was not about rates per se but it was somewhat related because transportation impact fees are a factor in calculating the rates. He said that is why the council has been working on them simultaneously.

A brief presentation was given explaining the changes that had been made in proposed impact fees. The recommended maximum amount for impact fees had been calculated as part of a 2007 study using peak hour data. When the Hamilton Transportation Plan was done average daily use figures were used instead of peak hour. Stranger noted that using average daily use numbers has resulted in a drop in the proposed impact fees. He also noted that the water and sewage impact fees had also been reduced to reflect the fact that a new storage reservoir had been deleted at a savings of $2 million. It is being replaced by using a well as an underground storage reservoir. Stranger said that these reductions in fees should be welcomed by the committee and forwarded to the Council for a decision.

Not so for at least two councilors, however. Helgeland and Petrusaitis both insisted that the public needed a chance to weigh in on the issue of impact fees while it was in committee.

“People need the chance to show up and tell you what they think before a decision is made to send it to the Council,” said Petrusaitis.

“Procedurally we need to give the public the right to comment,” said Helgeland. “I’d hate to lose the public trust.”

Councilor Al Mitchell moved to hold the matter in committee and for further discussion at the next Committee of the Whole.

“We can move it forward at that time under the right agenda heading,” said Mitchell.

The Council agreed to keep it in committee.

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