Monday, June 08, 2009

AZ cities & towns join Dems' on impact fee concern

My City of Tucson and others need fair impact fees.

PHOENIX -- Echoing the strong opposition from me and House Democrats to the AZ GOP budget narrowly passed Thursday night, the League of Arizona Cities and Towns dissed the majority budget, especially the unwise banning of development impact fees, in a news release today.

'The legislative budget contains a major new provision that has nothing to do with balancing the state budget, but again hits local taxpayers. This is a provision inserted at the last minute that completely eliminates the ability of cities and towns to collect development impact fees for a period of three years.

'Development impact fees are paid by builders and developers to pay for the construction of necessary infrastructure such as streets, sewers, police & fire stations, parks and other items that serve new developments. This practice, which already has many statutory limits and rules for implementation, is based on the principle of “growth pays for itself.” Impact fees cannot be used for salaries or general operations, only to install infrastructure for new development.

“The elimination of impact fees means that local taxpayers will be required to subsidize the building of new subdivisions while the developers get a free ride,” League Executive Director Ken Strobeck said. “This home builder bailout is completely inappropriate in a budget bill and benefits a narrow special interest at the expense of the public.”

Lobbyists for the home builders have been trying to restrict impact fees for years, but this is the first time such a massive policy change has been passed by the Legislature. It is believed this is their attempt to have development impact fees permanently eliminated.

“Cities and towns are being told they have to make up tens of millions of dollars of the state shortfall at the same time they have been seeing dramatic reductions in local tax revenue and have been making responsible budget decisions since the recession began,” he said. “These budget bills expect cities and towns to literally ‘pass the bucks’ to the state government at the expense of local taxpayers.”

- adapted from ALCT

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