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Impact fee changes should go through committee

Editor, 

The City of Polson hired a consulting firm, Tishlerbise, to advise the process of developing an impact fee ordinance. State code requires that any governmental entity that intends to propose an impact fee ordinance or resolution shall establish an impact fee advisory committee. The impact fee ordinance is to insure that new development pays a proportionate share of the average public facility cost reasonably related to and attributable to the new development’s share of the cost of infrastructure improvements made necessary by the new development. The ordinance makes the rules for what needs to happen. The advisory committee actually sees to it that it does happen. An example is the Walmart Superstore project that was required to provide a booster station and water main extension as a condition for approval. The city commission appointed the advisory committee Sept. 6, 2006. The impact fee ordinance was adopted March 19, 2007. James Raymond, when writing the impact fee ordinance, misinterpreted the function of the impact fee advisory committee. Rather than see the advisory committee as a standing committee meant to monitor directives required by state code, Raymond reconfigured the meaning of the committee’s function, making it seem the committee was only to review the process involved with writing the impact fee ordinance. The city paid Tishlerbise more than $62,000 to do that job. The city council disbanded the advisory committee after the ordinance was adopted.

The Kalispell Impact Fee Municipal Code incorporates the wording in the state code and says, “The committee shall be provided with adequate financial reports on a semiannual basis, shall meet at least annually, and shall provide the city council with a report of their findings and recommendations. The city shall provide the committee with the appropriate advice and counsel of professional city staff and/or an appropriate professional consultant selected by the city. The city council shall not consider or adopt any impact fees that have not been first considered by the committee.” 

It should be noted that the recent $200,000 impact fee reimbursement to Cougar Ridge Development was not reviewed by an advisory committee.

Margie Hendricks
Polson

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