City commission ups impact fees
POLSON — Impact fees assessed on building new houses or businesses in the city to pay their part for water, sewer, fire, parks and administrative work, were on the Polson City Commission’s agenda on June 15 again after being tabled at the last two commission meetings.
The impact fees have been set at 50 percent to encourage building. Commissioners questioned whether they could raise separate parts of the impact fees, such as water and sewer, and learned that could be done.
Commissioner John Campbell said the water and sewer fees should be at 100 percent since the commissioners committed $14 to $15 million to the new sewer treatment plant.
“We need every nickel we can pull into it,” Campbell said.
The other commissioners agreed, then discussing whether or not to raise the other impact fees.
Tony Porrazzo, Polson water and sewer superintendent, agreed. A new sewer line in the oldest part of town needs to be funded and cannot without impact fees, he said.
City of Polson Finance Officer Cindy Dooley noted that a safety building, talked about by the fire department, could be paid for using impact fees.
Road Superintendent Terry Gembala asked that if a new study is done, that city roads be included in the impact fees.
After commenting that impact fees are needed, and most large cities collect them having realized new building only means more schools, police, fire departments and roads, local business owner Rolf Harmsen asked Commissioner Stephen Turner if it was a conflict of interest for him, since he’s a builder, to be voting or talking about the issue.
It’s a conflict of interest for everybody who owns a business, works in a business or lives in the city, Turner replied.
Resident Margie Hendricks said she was angry about sewer and water 10 years ago, and the city was contaminating the river 10 years ago.
The impact fees were at 100 percent before and everything was fine, according to Mayor Knutson, who said she looked at where the city’s needs are.
She suggested impact fees go to 100 percent on water and sewer and 80 percent on everything else.
Commissioner Turner said he had one worry and that was that the impact fee money is supposed to be used for certain things and he was not sure the city paid attention to that.
He agreed to 100 percent for water and sewer if there was some give in the others.
The commissioners passed a motion to raise the water and sewer fees to 100 percent and raise fire and parks fees to 60 percent, which is 10 percent more than currently charged. The motion also included a 30-day period before the fees go into effect and a review of impact fees in February of 2016. A resolution containing the same language will be formulated for the commissioners to approve at the June 22 special meeting.
In other business, Polson City Judge A. Doug Olson submitted a letter of resignation effective July 31, according to Polson City Manager Mark Shrives. The city judge works one-fourth time, which Shrives said was about right. The Polson Police clerk also serves as the Polson court clerk, and Shrives said that position is overloaded.
Shrives said he’d formed a committee, including the Polson deputy attorney, assistant Polson police chief, a city commissioner and himself, to begin the search for applicants. The committee will review qualifications, conduct interviews and then make a recommendation to the city commission.
Commissioners approved a special use permit and conditions of approval for Taco Bell, which will be going in the Ridgewater subdivision.
The next regularly scheduled city commission meeting will be held July 6 at Polson City Hall.