Scott Franz of the Steamboat Pilot has a tale of raised voices, a hypothetical billionaire and which taxpayers should pony up the impact of traffic.
The Steamboat Springs County has a discussion featuring “some raised voices” on fees charged to developers to offset the impact traffic from new homes or rentals would have on the city system.
The fees are based on the cost to the public, through local and state taxes and grants, Franz said. But a couple of council members, Heather Sloop and Scott Ford, didn’t think the city should be collecting money from developers to offset what state taxpayers put in.
Sloop called it double-dipping. Fort called it extreme to intercede on behalf of the Colorado Department of Transportation.
He asked whether it would be fair if the city charged a developer an impact fee for an intersection improvement, but then Bill Gates decided to open his checkbook and pay for the improvement himself.
“Would we still think collecting this money (from the developer) was fair?” Ford asked.
Yeah, but CDOT ain’t Bill Gates and Colorado taxpayers ain’t Microsoft, especially to the benefit ski-town developers. And Gates doesn’t have the state Supreme Court and Colorado legislature behind him.
The Pilot story doesn’t mention it, but impact fees are written into state law by the legislature in Senate Bill 15 in 2001. The law gave local governments the authority to set reasonable fees, and gave the developer the right to challenge the fees in court.
The City Council re-examined the $24,500 impact fee it billed the developer of the Captain Jack subdivision on the northwest side of town for an intersection improvement nearby, which the development needed. CDOT paid $3.6 million and the city chipped in $877,000 improvement project at the intersection at at Lincoln Avenue and Elk River Road, Franz said.
The developer asked for a refund of about a three-quarters of his assessment, because the city put in only about a quarter of what the state paid. The developer wants to pay only a share of the city’s cost.
The city denied the request in June.
Councilman Jason Lacy told the Pilot that that doesn’t tell the whole story of traffic cost to the city.
“If you looked at these projects as a whole, developers have probably had a break,” Lacy said in Franz’s story.
The request to cut future developers a break hit a brick wall and died.
Read the tale of traffic, money and local politics here.