Friday, December 2, 2005

Impact fees recommended for annexation

Study addresses proposed Old Cutters development east of Hailey

Express Staff Writer

City Council member Carol Brown said protecting current Hailey residents from the impact costs of the proposed Old Cutters annexation is her top priority. Photo by David N. Seelig

Hailey Mayor Susan McBryant and the City Council accepted at a special meeting Tuesday the results of an in-depth fiscal impact study conducted by California-based Management Partners.

The study highlights a number of likely financial impacts the proposed Old Cutters annexation would have on the city.

As it's currently proposed, the 144-acre Old Cutters development would include approximately 113 residential units spread over the property's 85 acres of flat, buildable land. The development—proposed for a site at the end of Cutters Drive, on the northeast side of Hailey—would contain park space and a number of trails.

Based on the results of the study, Management Partners has recommended that Hailey charge a combined impact fee of $1,875,920 for the annexation's proposed residential units and duplexes.

The fee would translate out to a payment of $15,499 for single-family residential units and $13,167 for multi-family units, or roughly 2.5 percent of the value of each unit. The fees would be used to help offset the annexation's impacts on the city, its infrastructure and its current residents.

The study does say the annexation would have a nominal negative impact on the city's operating costs and current level of services.

City Council member Carol Brown said she wasn't ready to make an immediate decision on the annexation proposal, but added that the results of the study satisfied her. Brown said the study provides a good reference point that will help the council make a well-informed decision on the merits of the proposal.

Protecting current Hailey residents is her top priority, Brown said. "It isn't just whether it (the annexation) will cost them, but if it will be a benefit to them," she said.

John Campbell, a co-owner of the Old Cutters property with Steve Brown, said they're comfortable paying the proposed fees as long as the annexation proposal is processed expeditiously. Campbell said they've answered every concern and request by the city since the application for the annexation was filed in August 2003.

While generally supportive of the fiscal impact study, Campbell did take exception with some of the aspects of the report. He said a similar study conducted several years ago by Tischler & Associates for the Airport West annexation project recommended an impact fee of $2,855 per residential unit.

"Nobody is complaining the city didn't charge enough," Campbell said of the fees on the Airport West annexation.

Comparing the results of the two, Old Cutters LLC would pay roughly 5.5 times as much per residential unit, he said. "My feeling is the city is being pretty aggressive here with what they're charging us," Campbell said.

With the results of the study now in, Campbell said the owners hope the city will make a decision on their request as quickly as possible. "We want to move forward here," he said.

Like Councilwoman Brown, City Council member Don Keirn said he supports the conclusions of the study. The study's methodology and the amount of time city employees devoted to helping Management Partners complete the study leaves him confident, Keirn said. "I think this is a good starting point as far as the financial aspect goes," he said.

Keirn said the study's recommended fees would help protect the city in the event the annexation is approved. "I see no reason to go less," he said.

At the end of Tuesday's meeting, the City Council voted to accept the fiscal impact study as a reference and begin the process of considering the Old Cutters annexation application.

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