The Idaho Falls City Council adopted a commonly used tool to allow growth to pay for growth in the regular city council meeting Thursday night.
Cities across Idaho, including Boise, Nampa, Meridian, Coeur d’Alene, Rexburg and others, already use impact fees to help allow new construction to pay for continuing growth in their cities. With the vote last night, Idaho Falls joins the growing list of cities in Idaho and around the country to collect the fees.
“Every time a new home, apartment or business is built in the city, impacts to resources like police, fire, roads and other critical infrastructure stretches what is already in place,” said Idaho Falls Public Information Officer Eric Grossarth. “Impact fees ensure these services, including parks, are sufficient for our community’s needs.”
Existing businesses and homeowners will not have to pay impact fees. Impact fees are strictly for new development. They are paid for by builders when a building permit is issued. These one-time fees are just a small fraction of what it costs to develop an area or build a home but have significant implications for the entire community.
The impact fees were carefully studied and developed to ensure those who benefit from new growth and development pay their share of the cost and no more. The revenue helps pay for the costs to maintain services at the current level as more people move to Idaho Falls. Examples include widening roads, purchasing police vehicles and constructing parks.
Specifically, impact fees will go directly to pay for capital improvement projects in four areas: police, fire and EMS, transportation, and parks and recreation. By law, impact fees can only be used for things like new facilities and vehicles that are needed to accommodate an increased population. They can not be applied towards operating or maintenance costs.
The impact fees will go into effect June 1, 2022. The council opted to charge 100% of the fee for transportation and 75% of the fees for police, fire, and parks and recreation. The exact fees will be published in the impact fee schedule.
“We began examining this in the spring of 2020,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. “And last year’s comprehensive planning data shows a great many Idaho Falls residents have come to expect a certain level of city services. We have a responsibility to pay for them. Reasonable impact fees will give us another tool to use as we manage an increasingly complex budget environment. The classic line is that these fees allow growth to pay for growth.”
Some raise concerns that impact fees will stifle growth or push it into the surrounding area. In Idaho, multiple cities, including those in the Boise metropolitan area, have had impact fees for several years but continue to see substantial growth. In 2021, the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho reported that Ada and Canyon Counties saw 23,890 new residents move in between 2020 and 2021.
“We never take implementing fees or other financial measures lightly,” Casper said. “We worked to balance both developer and taxpayer concerns. After the extensive planning and input from stakeholders in public hearings, a majority of the City Council decided implementing these fees will ensure Idaho Falls remains America’s best small city.”
The initial public hearings and a public comment period regarding the adoption of the Impact Fee Study and Capital Improvement Plan, as well as the ordinance authorizing the implementation of development impact fees, were conducted in February 2022. Last night’s hearing was focused on setting the fees.
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Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with city staff, contact Public Information Officer Eric Grossarth at (208) 612-8562 or [email protected]