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Impact fee study released

Susan Cunningham

A recent report shows that a $1,600 impact fee charged to each new home in Stagecoach could help pay for future road improvements, but would not come close to the $4.5 million needed to improve Routt County Road 14.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners commissioned the Impact Fee Feasibility Study Policy Options Report to help show whether implementing impact fees in Stagecoach and the Steamboat Lake area makes sense.

The study suggests that if impact fees are charged on growth in Stagecoach, useful funds could result. However, the funds would not be enough for large projects. In Steamboat Lake, less growth is expected, so impact fees would result in a fairly small source of funds, but one that still may be helpful.

The study is available to the public and will be discussed by Routt County commissioners at the end of the month. No decision on implementing the fees will be made at this meeting.

After that meeting, consultants Clarion Associates may prepare a final report on what sorts of impact fees are possible, and county commissioners will decide whether they want to implement such fees.

“We’re still in the process of answering that question, is it feasible (to have impact fees),” Routt County Planner Chad Phillips said. “This report sheds a lot of light on that.”

Impact fees are one-time charges added to the cost of a new house to recover the cost of new facilities and services needed to serve the new house, according to the report. They are not charged to existing homes and are not a property tax or special assessment.

There are guidelines on what impact fees can be used for, including roads and emergency services, but not schools. Other guidelines involve when the impact fees must be used to make sure residents paying the fees benefit from them, according to the report.

In Stagecoach and Steamboat Lake, high-density development was platted in the 1970s, but much of that development has not happened. To accommodate that growth now, the county is considering methods of funding services and infrastructure.

“As things grow, something has got to go,” Phillips said. “We can’t keep gravel roads that 500 people live on, those have to get a hard surface.”

The cost of road improvements in Stagecoach associated with C.R. 14 is $4.5 million, according to the study. If Stagecoach grows at the same rate it did the past ten years, there could be 204 new homes in the next ten years. A $1,600 impact fee — which was the national average for road impact fees in 2000 — charged to each of those homes would generate about $325,000 by 2014.

However, if Stagecoach grows very quickly, the same impact fee could raise more than $825,000, a more significant contribution, but one that still is not enough.

On the other hand, in the Steamboat Lake area where the North Routt Fire District has immediate needs for a new water tender truck, an impact fee of about $200 per new home — less than half of the national average for emergency services in 2000 — could contribute significantly to the cost of the truck.

The study concludes with several questions for the county commissioners, such as whether the county would consider impact fees even though they don’t generate all of the revenue needed in the next ten years, and whether the county would consider applying the fees to a broader area.

The report is available online at http://www.co.routt.co.us. The meeting with county commissioners will be at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Commissioners Hearing Room of the Courthouse Annex.


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