Committee aims for February for decision on impact fees - Albuquerque Journal

Committee aims for February for decision on impact fees

A committee created last month to recommend how the city should proceed with new development impact fees is targeting February to make a recommendation to the Rio Rancho Governing Board.

Meeting for the first time Wednesday, the committee set its schedule and potential meeting topics.

The group has to provide a recommendation or request a deadline extension to the governing body by February.

The committee consists of Mayor Gregg Hull, and city councilors Dawnn Robinson and Cheryl Everett. Brian Patterson of Titan Development and David Newell of RayLee Homes serve as the board’s two public representatives.

The committee voted unanimously for Hull as chair and for Robinson as vice chair. Members agreed to have public meetings every Wednesday at 1 p.m. through December and January. If it has not gotten a recommendation for the governing body by Jan. 25, it will request an extension.

Impact fees are charges developers pay to the city to cover the cost of major system-level improvements, such as roads, utilities, parks and public safety facilities, to handle the growth their developments will bring.

The city suspended half the cost of the residential fees and all of the commercial development fees for two years in 2012 in an attempt to stimulate economic growth. The moratorium ended in September 2014 with the fees returning to their previous level.

The fees are significantly higher than those in Albuquerque, a fact many in the business community say put the city at a competitive disadvantage.

Last year, the governing body requested a consultant study before making any changes. The consultant determined raising the fee would help the city accommodate project growth. The city’s capital outlay advisory committee recommended the increase.

The governing body took no action on that recommendation, instead creating the new committee to look into the matter.

Hull said having the consultant’s study will allow the committee to consider the needs of the city and the development community when formulating a recommendation.

“Once we had those components, we could come back and really start facilitating a dialogue of how to move forward, what makes sense in a balanced environment – balancing city growth and the needs of the city, while also not creating an environment that stagnates and hurts development,” Hull said. “We want to make sure that we come away from this committee with some great suggestions that we can bring to the governing body.”

The majority of Wednesday’s meeting focused on future discussion points and questions city staff should be prepared to answer. Questions and topics were written on four large sheets of paper; each committee member was tasked with emailing city clerk Steve Ruger his or her top 10 topic priorities.

Future topics include: use of impact fees as a development tool; how the city has used impact fee funds in the past five years; consideration of where Albuquerque is developing/what the competition is doing; comparing impact fees across different cities/states; and the historic effect of impact fees on residential and commercial development in Rio Rancho.

Patterson said the committee should be aware of impact fees in nearby communities, saying Rio Rancho’s rate is currently higher than the rate in Albuquerque. “At the end of the day, we’re going to be compared to Albuquerque,” he said.

Everett said she was open to any idea about the city’s impact fees, saying the city should do what it can to compete with competing cities like Albuquerque.

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