Twin Falls uses impact fees to sustain city growth

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) How does a city like Twin Falls pay for an increasing population as well as a rapidly growing infrastructure system? Are more taxes levied on residents or do our elected leaders take a pay cut?

One way is through the application of impact fees on builders and developers. The fees are typically required when new infrastructure or population growth requires a city to expand essential services, including police, fire and emergency services, and even in some communities, schools.

The Twin Falls City Council voted down a motion to impose a cap on the city's impact fees until further information is obtained in February, according to Deputy City Manager Mitch Humble.

"Impact fees are a fee paid by development to cover the cost associated with the infrastructure need to serve new development," Humble said.

LeRoy Harcourt, owner of Kennan Creek Customer Homes, pays impact fees and understands they're necessary to keep the city running.

"It's understood, that with growth of the city is escalated cost," Harcourt said. "When impact fees are passed on to whether it be the builder or the developer. It's a way for the city to recapture money on the growth of the community."

Impact fees may increase the cost of new homes, but they ultimately fall on the builders, rather than then average residents who's been living in Twin Falls for several years.

"The payer of the fees are going to be the builders who pick up the permits," Humble said. "The people who apply for and receive building permits."

"It's a necessary evil, again for growth," Harcourt said. "But it does make it tough to build an affordable home, that new homeowners can get into."

How the Twin Falls City Council is expected to vote next month on impact fees, is still a unknown .

"I don't know," Humble said. "I don't suspect that it will be more than 3.5 percent in an increase. But that's kind of a guess on my part."

Harcourt thinks the industry could use some more certainty regarding the city's position on impact fees.

"If we could have a little more rhyme or reason, and anticipate these impact for the future, that would help builders and developers quite a bit more in what cost are going to escalate to," Harcourt said.

Click here for more information on the city's proposed impact fee proposal.

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