Kootenai County votes to refund impact fees - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Kootenai County votes to refund impact fees

Funds were collected for the jail, parks and sheriff's departments

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Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Kootenai County will refund the nearly $300,000 in impact fees collected for its departments, the commissioners voted unanimously on Thursday.

That includes fees collected for the jail, the parks department and the sheriff's department.

Refunding payments to more than 180 property owners and/or contractors is a crucial part of retooling the county's now-suspended impact fees, said Commissioner Todd Tondee.

"Going through the analysis, this is something that's hanging over its head, the people who have paid impact fees," said Tondee, the driving force behind initially creating and now revising countywide impact fees. "To get this weight off them would be better."

The commissioners had suspended impact fees in December, a year and a half after adopting them, due to issues with collection and fee structure.

The commissioners hope to revise and revive the fees in the next year and a half.

The county will refund $286,935 in impact fees, which were collected for the three departments from June 2011 through December 2012.

Tondee acknowledged that the impact fees, charged to individuals behind new development projects, had not been fairly charged and collected.

"We've learned a lot in this process," Tondee said of the years of cobbling an impact fee ordinance and partnering with agencies. "It's been longer than a bachelor's degree time period."

The commissioners' decision was a relief to Bill Potts.

When building his Windy Bay home, Potts had been surprised that he had to pay $3,800 in impact fees to the county and Worley Fire District, he said.

"I was building a home, and lost my job at the same time," Potts said. "Thirty-eight hundred dollars was like $10,000 to me."

Also grateful was Bob Bingham, who paid the county $1,500 in impact fees when building a new home near Athol.

"It really matters to us. We're not wealthy people," Bingham said, adding that he hopes officials find an alternative to impact fees. "The impact fee program, while it was based in good motives when it was brought up, it was very flawed in enactment. That was the cause for its demise."

Tondee pointed out issues with the fees, like whether building projects were charged for their proportionate share of impact on local services.

"A commercial storage unit is paying the same as a retail center," Tondee cited as an example.

Collection complications also upset the process, Tondee noted.

Some cities refused to collect impact fees on behalf of taxing districts who were on board with charging impact fees. Only cities and counties can collect impact fees, under state law.

Commissioner Dan Green pointed out another knot to untie; the difficulty in calculating a building project's impact on some departments, like the jail.

It can't be known if residents of a new home will ever use the jail, he said.

"You can't quantify what the demand is going to be on the jail until people are arrested and put in jail," Green said.

All three commissioners agreed they still believe in impact fees, and they hope to sort out the web of issues in ensuing months.

"There's still a lot of support for impact fees," said Commissioner Jai Nelson, pointing out that only one impact fee appeal was ever filed.

Legal staff will determine if the county will refund the fees to contractors or property owners, the commissioners said.

County EMS, overseen by the Joint Powers Board, will decide separately whether to refund the roughly $3,000 it received in impact fees.

Taxing districts like Post Falls Highway District and Worley Fire District have already chosen to refund impact fees the county collected for them.

On Thursday, the commissioners also agreed to refund the $19,556 in administration fees the county charged taxing districts, for collecting impact fees on the districts' behalf.

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  • Bob Loblaw posted at 5:31 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    Bob Loblaw Posts: 410

    Vox is a troll. The "fees" were illegal. They got their privates caught in the gate and now it's C.Y.A. time.

  • bob-athol posted at 11:59 am on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    bob-athol Posts: 192

    With regard suspending and refunding the impact fees, it is important to understand that most all of the taxing district boards separately voted to refund the money, this was not a lone decision by the BOCC. And why did all these board members separately decide that they should refund the money? It had nothing to do with trying to save developers money, nor home owners, it was because the monies collected had not been collected nor calculated properly.

    The neat thing about when someone gives an opinion, is it reveals how much they may not know what they are talking about.

    I can assure you, NONE of the taxing districts wanted to refund or stop the program, they knew that lawsuits were lining up, and they knew why. To name a few ....

    1. The taxing districts failed to obtain agreements from the cities they serve, so the only money being collected was being collected from rural new development. Yet, the jail, EMS, etc, serves both city and rural residents, but only 30% of all new construction was being forced to pay.

    2. The growth values were off by 400%, the current asset lists were built wrong, the future assets lists were built wrong, the population numbers were wrong, even for the original year. All these errors made the calculations for impact fees drastically wrong.

    3. The tracking and accounting requirements were very complicated.

    4. A lot of these issues turned out to be based in the poor work done by a consultant several years ago.

    Faced with knowing the districts would not and could not possibly win in a law suit, and to save having to pay more interest, they wisely refunded the money. Of course they could have spent the money, lost the law suits and then been forced to immediately raise every ones property taxes to pay for the loss and court costs. One city in Idaho tried blowing off complying with the law and was forced by the judge to raise property taxes the next year, they went up about $2000 on a $300k home.

    Idaho Code requires "all" new development in a district (fire/ems/sheriff/jail/parks/roads) be required to pay .... but only 30% (out side cities) were being charged. Thus the program was not equitable nor fair. KC was the first Idaho county to try a county based impact fee program, its much harder for a county than a city to implement impact fees.

    This time, the BOCC and all the taxing district boards did the right thing.

  • SamuelStanding posted at 7:46 am on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    SamuelStanding Posts: 588

    Let's refund the Impact fees! Let's add another $5 million to the cost of McEuen! Let's purchase a stretch of roadway falling into the lake! Let us also see more people move to North Idaho without jobs and have our small police and fire department figure out how to cover all the safety needs of the county, because the County Commissioners are only out for themselves and not the betterment of our community.

    When are the next elections?

  • JoeIdaho posted at 7:36 am on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    VERY good that North Idaho, and Kootenai County are attempting to get away from the utterly Californiaeque debalces such as the ignorant "impact fees". They are & were nothign more than a blatant attempt by government to snatch more money, and vox's poor attempt at telling us all that this is bad because the "funds came form developers, not people" is just flat out WRONG.
    If a developer hasd to pay this, the CONSUMER has to pay the developer for it as well. That means ALL OF US pay this stupidity, not just "evil developers".
    Someday, vox, maybe you & the libs will being to comprehend that when you fine ANY group of people in an overbearnig way, WE ALL PAY FOR IT.

    Excellent move.

  • mister d posted at 7:34 am on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    I guess voting these commissioners in wasn't the best idea for the average citizen. You are correct vox.

  • voxpop posted at 4:40 am on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    What a complete and utter farce. The examples given were idiotic. The vast majority of these funds were collected from DEVELOPERS - not individuals building homes. What happened here was nothing less than the continuing saga of Idaho politics where govt agencies are manipulated by business special interests. Anyone want to guess where this $300k is now going to come from? Look in the mirror.

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