Friday, March 28, 2008

Petitions against city fees gathering some support

Express Staff Writer

Bob Wiederrick submits a draft of his petition to City Administrator Heather Dawson at Hailey City Hall earlier this month. Photo by David N. Seelig

Hailey metalworker Bob Wiederrick is circulating two petitions that could challenge the city of Hailey's right to collect development impact fees and business license fees to pay for city services.

After one week of seeking support, Wiederrick says he has assembled nearly 50 signatures on each of the petitions. He has until June 6 to gather 258 signatures on each petition to get the issues onto a city election ballot for a vote.

"The development impact fees were put into place two years ago at the request of Hailey residents who wanted to see development in the city pay for itself," Hailey Mayor Rick Davis said. "These fees help to offset all of the infrastructure costs in the city, including the Police Department, Streets Department and Fire Department. We implemented them because the city didn't want the burden of increased infrastructure costs to be on taxpayers."

Wiederrick claims the development impact fees charged by the city are a "disguised tax" that raised his cost from $16,000 to $24,000 to build a metalworking shop on land he owns in Hailey.

He has also circulated a petition to repeal the city's annual business license fee, which he says has risen from $25 to $50 since he began paying it. The fee includes an annual fire safety inspection.

Wiederrick said 23 business owners are among the people who have so far signed his petition to repeal the license fees.

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