The City of Emmett adopted last night, April 27, a pair of amendments to its Comprehensive Plan that will effectively make Development Impact Fees (DIF) a part of its plan to have new growth “pay for itself”.
The DIFs proposed in the amendments will now be sent out to be written into an ordinance for City Council adoption likely at the following City Council meeting.
The City of Emmett plans are similar to those adopted by Gem County after a public hearing on July 19. Each plan focuses on capital improvement needs anticipated to meet a growing population base. Each plan has four components — roads, fire, law enforcement and emergency medical services. Those are the areas that Idaho Code and the adopted ordinances have targeted for these initial fees.
Questions of why other local taxing districts, including schools, are not included are clearly answered in Idaho code; actually answered by their exclusion in the Legislature’s adoption of Title 67, Chapter 82, Idaho Code.
The major difference between the two local governmental entities is in the amount determined to be needed in one-time assessed DIFs to meet Capital Improvement Plans developed over the last couple years to establish the baseline of current services. That allows projected growth numbers to be aligned with additional or new services that may be required to maintain the same level of service.
An example would be the number of police officers per thousand that a city may employ. If there is a 25 percent increase in population over a designated time period, then a 25 percent increase in police officers would be considered eligible to be funded from DIFs. That would also include additional facilities and equipment that increased manpower might require.
The calculations used to determine Capital Improvement Project needs are based on improvements with a useful life of 10 years or more. Those numbers are then divided by a projection of the number of DIF eligible new construction over a similar time frame to come up with a per unit fee.
The total Development Impact Fees adopted by Gem County for a new single-family dwelling total $9,411. The total Development Impact Fees proposed by the City of Emmett for a new single-family dwelling total $4,248. These fees are separate and do not overlap. Fees will be paid only to the City if the new construction property resides in the Emmett city limits. Fees will be paid only to Gem County for all new construction property outside the Emmett city limits.
Fees are different for new multi-family residential construction, retail, commercial, and industrial buildings.
County adopted fees
The fees that go into effect on August 19 in Gem County are shared with four divisions of county services.
Of the $9,411 assessed on a new single-family dwelling, $7,326 of that is designated to Roads and Bridges. Gem County Sheriff’s office would receive $277, Gem County Fire District 1 or 2 would receive $1,401 and Gem County Emergency Management Services would receive $401.
Each department would not receive that money into its general operating budget. All DIF funds have to be held in separate accounts and held in reserve until actual expenses are incurred. Those funds must be expended in an eight-year window on designated Capital Improvement Projects or returned to those who paid them. There are few exemptions to that time limitation.
The County DIF assessments account for approximately 38 percent of the projected needed funds to meet the Capital Improvement Projects. That mirrors the anticipated population growth projected for the county over the next ten years. The EMS portion reflects closer to a 44 percent DIF share of the CIP.
If growth lags behind that rate, less funds will be received and less of the Capital Improvement Projects will be achieved. If growth rate outpaces the projected level, the fees can be adjusted annually and the Capital Improvement Projects can be expanded or altered to meet the growing needs.
City proposed fees
The proposed $4,248 City of Emmett DIF would be divided up into four departments or services. $1,561 would be dedicated to Roads, $1,555 to Emmett Fire, $731 to Emmett Police and $401 to Emergency Management Services.
The EMS amount is identical to the same 44 percent of projected capital improvement needs as the county as this is a shared service. The Road department portion also has a similar ratio, 44 percent, of total CIP needs coming from DIF funds as the County. Emmett Police and Emmett Fire, however, display a significantly higher portion of future CIP needs coming from the DIFs as each cite growth as the primary pressure on future needs. Emmett Police would conceivably fund 78 percent of its Capital Improvement Plan and Emmett Fire would receive approximately 70 percent of its funding of future additional needs from DIFs.
One of the biggest concerns for both County and City government officials is the cost of administering the program, particularly if growth should stagnate.
Emmett Public Works director Clint Seamons points to Middleton as an example of where funds were collected but not expended due to the 2008 recession and lack of projected growth. Funds had to be refunded when their time limitations for their expenditure kicked in. “It was quite an effort to track down those
Mayor Gordon Petrie estimates that administration of the program will likely require “a dedicated person to track the funds and their administration.”
That was the biggest stumbling block when impact fees were raised two years ago – and even earlier than that.
“This has been a very lengthy process,” Emmett City Building and Zoning Administrator Brian Sullivan said. “We honestly didn’t have enough growth to justify the committed expenses. That has certainly changed for now.”
The amendments to the City’s Comprehensive Plan were crafted with an understanding of those limitations and the risks inherent in wild fluctuations in growth patterns.
“We are decades behind in many areas of some of our services,” Petrie said. “We essentially lose money on every residence in regard to services provided versus property taxes collected. We can make some of that back with the margin of services that commercial and residential properties require versus their tax base. But we are very much roof top heavy in the mix, and that is where the growth currently is. This makes sense to move forward now.“
Supporting Petrie’s assertion regarding residential dominance in the property classifications is data included in each the City and County DIF proposals. Emmett statistics indicate that total net growth in square footage in the city limits has been and is projected at 83 percent residential to only 17 percent non-residential. That equates an estimated 1,104 new residential units in the city in the next ten years.
Gem County statistics are even more residence biased. Net growth in square footage outside the city limits is 94 percent residential and 6 percent non-residential. Projections place new residential units in the county over the next ten years at 1,367.
The pattern of residences dominating the growth history and projections is reflected in the DIFs established in the County adopted ordinance and in the pending City ordinance.
These fees are only accessed once and at the time of building permit issuance and only apply to construction that represents a new unit – not on remodels unless it changes a residence from a single to a multi-family residence.
Gem County Total Impact Fees
Single Family Residence — $9,411
Multi-Family Residence (per unit) — $6,333
Retail (per sq. feet) $18.50
Office (per sq. feet) $11.77
Industrial (per sq. feet) 4.75
City of Emmett Total Impact Fees
Single Family Residence — $4,248
Multi-Family Residence (per unit) — $3,522
Retail (per sq. feet) – $4.82
Office (per sq. feet) — $3.44
Industrial (per sq. feet) — $2.01