Should growth pay for itself? Darn right.
But the problem with the way impact fees are currently structured in Kootenai County is, you'll get growth to pay for itself by eliminating growth altogether.
Here is just one of numerous examples showing how local impact fees represent a good idea gone very bad.
An established local company wants to construct a building that will cost about $190,000. Here's how impact fees would raise the cost of the project:
EMS: Add $135.
Jail: Add $3,629.
Sheriff's Department: Add $1,881.
Post Falls Highway District: $12,968. No, that isn't a typo.
And no, the project is not moving forward.
When a simple, straightforward attempt to expand a business is thwarted by impact fees that push the plan into the realm of fiscal insanity, something is wrong with the way those impact fees are structured. This example is far from singular, and fortunately, our county commissioners are listening.
They're listening as a number of individuals and businesses are explaining that they want to be good corporate citizens, but they need fair guidelines in which to operate. The county has responded by saying it might be willing to suspend its share of impact fees, which would solve part of the problem, anyway.
But unless other taxing entities agree to suspend impact fees - at least until the region has recovered sufficiently from the Great Recession - an unofficial moratorium on growth will be in effect. This doesn't just affect the expansion or addition of buildings, either. With many of those buildings would come additional jobs, making the economic impact even more meaningful.
We don't believe any taxing entity established impact fees with the idea that all growth is wrong. We encourage the decision makers at these entities to suspend impact fees until they can develop a tax plan that will be equitable for everybody.