Posts tagged “impact fees

Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (March 31)

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, March 31. It’s not the official minutes.

The meeting is being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and streamed online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:16 p.m.

The workshop has started. Councilman James Benham is absent tonight.

6:20 p.m.

Executive Session Actions

The council unanimously authorized City Manager Kelly Templin to negotiate a reasonable and favorable settlement in a pole attachment collection matter. The council also unanimously approved and ratified the terms of a settlement agreement with Embrace Brazos Valley.

6:26 p.m. (more…)


5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (about 5:30 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:

  1. Annual Audit Reports: In the workshop, the council will review the city’s annual audit reports and Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
  2. Fun for All Playground: The council will hear a workshop presentation about the Fun for All Playground, an all-abilities accessible area in Beachy Central Park. The project is funded primarily by private donations and civic groups. A $207,390 design contract is part of the regular meeting’s consent agenda.
  3. Ringer Library Expansion: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $727,453 contract for the final design of the Ringer Library expansion and renovation. Voters approved the $8.4 million project in 2008.
  4. Lakeway-Pebble Creek Extension: The council will consider a $944,474 contract for engineering services related the $15.1 million Lakeway Drive-Pebble Creek Parkway Extension Project.
  5. Impact Fee Advisory Committees: The council will consider appointing advisory committees to study roadway, water and wastewater impact fees.

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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Feb. 11)

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Feb. 11. It’s not the official minutes.

The meeting is being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and streamed online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:27 p.m.

The workshop has started.

5:35 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. Councilmembers pulled these consent items for workshop discussion:

  • Lick Creek Nature Center: The council will consider a $2.1 million contract with JaCody, Inc., for the construction of the Lick Creek Nature Center approved by voters in 2008. The design was finalized in 2014, but construction was delayed until an adequate water line could be installed for fire protection. The project, which also includes extensive site improvements and landscaping, is expected to be finished this fall.

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6:03 p.m. (more…)


Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Jan. 28)

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Jan. 28. It’s not the official minutes.

The meeting is being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and streamed online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:15 p.m.

The workshop has started. (more…)


Podcast: Would new impact fees impact me?

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

A new housing development pops up — it means more cars on our streets, more yards being watered and more toilets being flushed. Should an established College Station resident have to subsidize the additional wear and tear — and eventual expansion — on that infrastructure?

That’s being explored by the College Station City Council, which has asked for more information related to impact fees: one-time costs only to buyers of new homes who are bringing additional impact to the city’s infrastructure.

(more…)


Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Nov. 12)

College Station City Council

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Nov. 12. It’s not the official minutes.

The meeting is being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and streamed online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

Before this afternoon’s executive session, the council took a tour of the College Station Fire Department’s new 61-foot hazmat response vehicle (below), which is based at Fire Station No. 6.

cs-fdhz-web

5:43 p.m.

The workshop has started.

5:51 p.m. (more…)


5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meeting

By Colin Killian, Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5:30 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:

  1. Rental Registration Update: The council will receive a workshop presentation about new software that allows online registration and renewal of rental properties.
  2. Impact Fees: The council will discuss the pros and cons of implementing impact fees for transportation and water/wastewater infrastructure.
  3. University Drive Safety Improvements: The council will consider a contract for creating a final detailed design of Phases 2-5 of the University Drive Pedestrian Safety Improvements Project.
  4. School Traffic Movements: The council will consider changes to traffic movements near three elementary schools as requested by the College Station Independent School District: a) No left turns from Welsh Avenue into the Rock Prairie Elementary driveway; b) No left turns from Brothers Boulevard into the Southwood Valley Elementary driveway; and c) No left turns from Eagle Avenue into the public alley north of Newport Lane during drop-off and pick-up times at Creek View Elementary.
  5. Arts council Board: The council will consider appointments to the Arts Council of Brazos Valley’s board of directors.

(more…)


Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (July 23)

gavel[1]Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, July 23. It’s not the official minutes.

Both meetings are being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and streamed online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:56 p.m.

The workshop has started. Council members Blanche Brick, Julie Schultz, John Nichols and James Benham are absent. All but Nichols are participating in the meeting by teleconference.

6:02 p.m. (more…)


Five things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5:30 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch: (more…)


Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Nov. 14)

This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Nov. 14. It’s not the official minutes.

Both meetings are being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and can also be watched online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

Aldrich, Berry Take Oaths of Office 

Earlier today, the council canvassed the votes from the Nov. 5 election, and Steve Aldrich and Nancy Berry were sworn into office by municipal judge Ed Spillane. (more…)


City Council Preview (Feb. 23)

Here’s a quick overview of some of the items the College Station City Council will be discussing at its workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Feb. 23. This blog is not a complete and official agenda.

The workshop and regular meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. Previous council meetings are archived on the website. A detailed live blog from the meetings will be posted on this site and can also be accessed through the city’s Facebook page.

Workshop Meeting (3 p.m.)

Economic Development Master Plan

The council will hear a presentation on the development of an economic development master plan. The preparation of the plan was included in the approved Fiscal Year 2012 budget and will assist the city’s efforts outlined in the adopted Council Strategic Plan.  Staff has identified a consultant team for the project, developed a scope and negotiated a contract amount.  The project will be led by the Planning & Development Services Department, which will be assisted by the City Manager’s Office and the consultant team.  This approach allows the city to secure a higher level of services from the consultant team and will do so at essentially the same cost as originally budgeted with the Comprehensive Plan. The contract is on the consent agenda in the regular meeting.

(more…)


City Council Meeting Summary (April 28)

This blog is a summary of the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, April 28, and is not the official minutes. Changes made to specific items will be recorded in the minutes, which will be available in approximately two weeks. Click here to view the complete workshop and regular meeting packets.

Place 4 Council Member Katy-Marie Lyles was ill and did not attend either meeting.

Workshop Meeting Highlights

Maroon Bike Program
Karen Gauss, leader of the Maroon Bike Project, and Ron Steedly, Texas A&M Alternative Transportation Director, briefed the council on the Maroon Bike Network, a proposed bicycle rental system for the Bryan/College Station area. This program would provide individuals an opportunity to ride a bike without the expense of purchasing one. The city would provide no funding. Cities such as San Antonio, Minneapolis, Chicago, Des Moines, Denver and others have successfully instituted similar systems. Among the program’s benefits are that it’s fast, convenient and flexible; designed for short trips and errands; multi-modal and extends the transit network at relatively low costs; reduces traffic congestion; and promotes cycling as an urban transportation mode. Such a system requires a fleet of bikes, docking stations, user registration and payment systems. On average, one bike is needed for every 110 people. If all the bikes are taken from a docking station, the terminal will tell the renter where the next closest bike can be found. A bike can be picked up from any location and returned to another docking station. The Maroon Bike Project envisions eight or nine stations on the Texas A&M campus with additional locations throughout the city.

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City Council: Thursday Preview (April 28)

Here’s a quick look at some of the items the College Station City Council will be considering Thursday (April 28) at its workshop and regular meetings. This blog is not intended as a complete and official agenda. Click here to see the complete agenda packets.

Workshop Meeting (3 p.m.)

See/Click/Fix Overview

The city council will receive a demonstration of See/Click/Fix, a smartphone application that was implemented by Planning and Development Services in February. The city has sought methods to improve code enforcement and empower city residents to take an active role in their neighborhood integrity. See/Click/Fix is a privately-developed web-based smartphone application that can be downloaded at no cost. It enables citizens to identify possible code violations, take a photo of the violation, geographically locate the possible violation, submit it to the appropriate code officer, and receive reports from the code officer on the city’s progress in investigating and resolving the issue. The service costs $40 per month.

(more…)


Update on Water/Wastewater Impact Fees

In a previous blog, we discussed the pros and cons of implementing system-capacity impact fees for the water and wastewater systems in College Station, which are being considered later this month by the city council. If enacted, these fees would be assessed on new home construction to help pay the capital costs for expanding the capacity of the utility systems. This revenue would prevent the utility rate payers from subsidizing all the cost of infrastructure for the new development.

In January, we wrapped up the Technical Memo, which compiled all the capital projects that will be required over the next 10 years. Based on these future projects, we estimated that the maximum impact fees per LUE (Living Unit Equivalent) would be approximately $2,500 for water and $1,700 for wastewater. However, the Rate Credit calculations had not yet been performed.

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City Council Meeting Summary (March 10, 2011)

This blog is a short summary of the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, March 10, and is not the official minutes. Changes made to specific items will be recorded in the minutes, which will be available in approximately two weeks.

Workshop Meeting Highlights

New BVSWMA, Inc. Executive Director
By a unanimous vote (7-0), the council approved Bryan Griesbach as Executive Director of BVSWMA, Inc., and he introduced himself to the council.  He reported that the new landfill site east of College Station has been highlighted in the American Public Works Association magazine, noting that the site is the only LEED certified landfill in the U.S.  Griesbach said the new facility will be opening soon, possibly within the next 60-90 days.  He has been in the profession for 21 years and said the new landfill facility is the finest he has ever seen.

System Capacity Impact Fees on Water/Wastewater
The city council received an informational presentation regarding the economics of the possible implementation of “system capacity” impact fees for Water and Wastewater. Dr. Jim Gaines of the Texas A&M Real Estate Center provided a brief summary on the health of the local economy, followed by a question and answer session with the council.

Council directed staff to begin looking into these impact fees last year. Here’s how the fees would work: when a building permit is pulled, the builder would pay a fee to compensate the city for the expansion of the water and wastewater systems the new development needs. The fees would ultimately be paid by the new home buyer, which would mitigate any rate increases paid by other residents since the cost of the capital improvements would be removed from the rate structure.

Water Services Director David Coleman said the maximum fees considered for water is $1,480 and for wastewater is $1,578.  Staff’s policy recommendation is to implement water/wastewater impact fees at $400 each and zero out the five existing impact fees on specific lines.  Impact fees will directly affect the city’s ability to support future development.  Wastewater is nearing capacity, and staff is considering a joint meeting with Planning and Zoning to review the wastewater master plan.  On April 28, the council will have the second and final public hearing and will consider adoption of impact fees.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Kersten presented some assumptions regarding impact fees.  Assumptions include the city collecting impact fees for five years, using an example of a capital project of $10 million and considering various funding sources.  Assuming the issuance of a 20-year debt, he showed what the impact is with and without an impact fee.  No water impact fees would result in a rate increase of 5.6 percent. A water impact fee could result in a rate increase of 3.3 percent.  He also reviewed what impact different fees would have, pointing out that a lower fee of $150 still needs a 5.4 percent increase and the higher fee of $400 results in a 5 percent rate increase.  Wastewater impact fees could result in a rate increase of 6.1 percent for no fee and 5.3 percent for a $400 fee.

Dr. Gaines reported that the Bryan/College Station area is doing well and that College Station grew 38 percent in the last census period. He said single-family building permits have been up and down during certain periods and for the most part, the fall off has not been as pronounced as other areas of the state. The value of permits since 1994 is $122,000 per dwelling unit on average.  Looking at the 2009 breakdown of the average household income in the community — assuming a 10 percent down payment, a 5 percent fixed rate and other variables – 42 percent of households in the area cannot afford to pay more than $75,000 for a home. Based on these assumptions, another 22 percent cannot afford to pay more than $125,000, and 64 percent cannot afford to pay more than $125,000. For every $1,000 increase in home values, more families cannot afford a home, with a lesser impact on lower-income homes than upper-income homes.  Gaines said with material costs rising, interest rates are likely to increase in time and the median home price is extremely important. The area has had continuously increasing median home prices as compared to other areas of the state and is running 6-7 percent below trend.

Regular Meeting Highlights

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously (7-0) to approve all seven consent agenda items, which are generally regarded as “housekeeping” items. Click here to view all the consent items.

Brazos Animal Shelter Contract
The council voted 5-2 to approve a new contract with the Brazos Animal Shelter. This long-term contract includes provisions to calculate costs off a cost-per-animal model that will be negotiated on a yearly basis, and allows for an auditing mechanism for verification and transparency purposes. The contract will be re-evaluated on a yearly basis.
VOTE: Voting against approving the contract were Jess Fields and Jana McMillan. 

Citizens Charter Review Advisory Commission
The council appointed 10 people to the Citizens Charter Review Advisory Commission. The commission will review the city charter and recommend changes. The review is expected to be a lengthy process and proposed amendments are not likely to go before voters until May 2012. Appointed to the commission were Brian Bochner, Terry Childers, Chuck Ellison, Patrick Gendron, Paul Greer, Gary Halter, Tony Jones, Jim Maness, Lynn McIlhaney and Buck Prewitt.

Links:

Video Archive of Council Meetings

Council Agendas and Minutes

Official minutes of Thursday’s meetings will be available in two weeks.

The next council workshop and regular meeting will be March 24  at city hall.



City Council: Thursday Preview (March 10)

Here’s a quick look at some of the items the College Station City Council will be discussing Thursday, March 10 at its workshop (3 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings at city hall. This blog is not intended as a complete and official agenda. Click here to see the complete agenda packets.

Workshop Meeting

System Capacity Impact Fees for Water/Wastewater
The city council will receive an informational presentation regarding the economics of the possible implementation of system capacity impact fees for Water and Wastewater. Dr. Jim Gaines of the Texas A&M Real Estate Center will provide a brief summary on the health of the local economy, followed by a question and answer session with the council.

(more…)


Should College Station Have Water Impact Fees?

In the months leading up to April, we will be discussing the pros and cons of implementing system-capacity impact fees for the water and wastewater systems in College Station.  These fees would help pay the capital costs for expanding the capacity of the utility systems, shifting a portion of this capital cost away from the utility rate payers and onto the entity that created the need – the new development.  The economics of this proposal are debatable but to get a constructive exchange of opinions, we must have a solid understanding what impact fees are and how they work.

How are utility capital projects funded?

When the water or wastewater systems must be expanded to meet increasing demands, the resulting capital projects are funded with utility revenues. About 25 percent of revenues are dedicated to paying the debt service from bond issues that were used to build our utility infrastructure.  Both the water and wastewater funds are called enterprise funds, because they rely solely on revenue paid by customers on their utility bills.  None of the money from property tax, sales tax or hotel occupancy tax goes to enterprise funds – they are completely self-supporting.

What causes utility rates to increase?

When our operating costs increase, or we have a large capital improvement program, the only way to meet these requirements is through a rate increase.  For example, when the cost goes up for commodities we must purchase — such as chemicals, fuel, parts, equipment, etc. — we have no choice but to pay the bills, and that added cost must be passed along to the rate payers.  In addition, when we are required to incur large capital costs before older debts are retired, an additional rate increase may be required so that we can issue the bonds to pay for the capital projects. 

What happens if a rate increase request is reduced or denied?

As part of our budget preparation, we project operational costs and bonding capacity for the capital projects.   If these items require a rate increase and the city council decides to reduce the amount of increase, then capital projects would be deferred, if possible.  But if a rate increase is denied completely, that means the operational cost increase, like the electricity costs in the previous example, would have to be absorbed in the water or wastewater budget. The result would be a diminished level of service to the customers.  In the extreme case, a lack of revenue to fund capital projects to increase system capacities would eventually result in a denial of development requests as the city must have adequate utility capacity to enable growth to occur.  When we must drill new water wells or make large-scale upgrades to the treatment plants, these projects are too expensive to be paid for by any one development.

How would impact fees change this situation?

Revenue from impact fees is used directly to help pay for increasing the capacity of the water and wastewater systems so that growth and new developments can occur.  They do not pay the full cost, but when they are all collected they will fund from 50 to 66 percent of the capital cost for increased system capacities.  This means that impact fees can mitigate rate increases and by keeping the increases low, make them more likely to be approved by future councils.  The net effect of the impact fees would be to make new developments pay a larger share of the capital costs necessitated by that development, thereby removing that cost from the rate payers.

How would the impact fees be collected?

State law dictates that impact fees must be collected at the time the building permit is issued inside the city’s water or wastewater service area.  For College Station, impact fees will not apply in the extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) because our water and wastewater service areas don’t extend past the city limits.  But since the fees are collected with the building permit, this means the city might have to wait several years for the revenue to be realized. When a development plat is approved, the impact fees in effect at that time are permanently locked in for every lot in that development, regardless of when the building permit is pulled. Please note that a plat is simply a map showing how property will be sub-divided for a particular development.

How is the amount of an impact fee determined?

State law dictates the process for determining what the maximum impact fees can be, then the city council can establish fees from zero to the maximum.  Fees can be phased in over time and can be different for various zones in the city, but they cannot exceed the calculated maximum.  The process to calculate the maximum fees has two basic phases — technical and policy.

The technical phase looks at projected land uses, growth patterns, capacity of the utility systems and the capital projects that will be required over the next 10 years to meet the growth requirements.  The cost of the capital projects is divided by the number of projected Living Unit Equivalents (LUE) and that determines the capital cost portion.  These data are summarized in a document called the Technical Memorandum, which we have recently completed. The estimated maximum fees per LUE are approximately $2,500 for water and $1,700 for wastewater.

The policy phase takes the Technical Memo and applies certain rate credits to determine the maximum fees that can be established.  With that information, any policy considerations staff believes are relevant are added and the recommendations of the Planning and Zoning Commission are compiled.  All this information makes up the Impact Fee Report, which is presented to council as a draft for them to make changes as they see fit.  Council then makes the final decision whether or not to implement the impact fees and if so, at what amounts.

Where are we and what happens next?

We are now at the end of the Technical Phase (click here for the complete timeline).   We will conduct the first public hearing, for technical issues, at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at city hall.  If council approves the Technical Memo at this meeting, we plan to have the final draft of the Impact Fee Report complete by the end of January for the Planning and Zoning Commission to review before it goes to council.  We expect the second public hearing to be held at the council meeting scheduled for March 24.  An ordinance to enact impact fees could be in effect by April 7 at its second reading.  Of course, this schedule is completely dependent on the Planning and Zoning Commission and the city council’s action.

How would fees be assessed to commercial buildings?

State law requires the impact fees be calculated based on Living Unit Equivalent (LUE), which means a single-family residence using a ¾-inch water meter.  Since the size of the water meter determines how much demand will be placed on the water and wastewater systems, the state dictates that the fees be pegged to the size of the water meter.  For example, an apartment building with a 3-inch water meter would be charged for 10.67 LUEs, since a 3-inch meter is capable of using 10.67 times more water than the standard ¾-inch meter.  Other meter sizes have similar equivalents.

Doesn’t the city already have some impact fees?

The city has designated five particular utility lines as impact fee lines, and developers pay a fee to connect to these specific lines.  This system has worked well, but these fees are very limited and do not contribute to expanding plant capacities.  If system-capacity impact fees are enacted, staff will recommend that council zero-out the existing impact fees.  This would mean that plats approved before the effective date of the system-capacity fees would be under the existing fees, and plats approved afterward would only have the system-capacity fee applied. 

Are existing plats grandfathered?

Plats that were approved before the system-capacity impact fees are enacted are not subject to the system-capacity fees as long as the building permits are pulled within one year.  After one year, they are subject to the system-capacity impact fees. We do have some legal questions regarding potential time limits on how this grandfathering will work for plats that are subject to the existing impact fees for specific lines, but we will get those answered as soon as possible.

What are other cities in Texas doing with impact fees?

Many cities in the Metroplex and the I-35 corridor have enacted impact fees.  Please note that the Wellborn water system has enacted an impact fee to pay for their new surface water treatment plant, and they charge approximately $2,200 for each new LUE on their water system.

Have you received feedback from the development community?

We have met with the Home Builders Association and it has several concerns regarding impact fees.  Their concerns seem to be:

  1. The new Comprehensive Plan’s land use assumptions place too much emphasis on in-fill development, which skews the results of the Technical Memo.
  2. Many development fees have been added in recent years, totaling more than $9,000 per acre.
  3. The timing of this proposal is bad because the economy is not yet strong enough.
  4. These impact fees will drive development away from College Station.
  5. Development already pays for itself in two years.

The city does not fully agree with all aspects of these concerns, but the HBA’s concerns are obviously legitimate and will be discussed at future Planning and Zoning Commission and council meetings.

How would system-capacity impact fees affect the cost of new homes?

There is no definitive answer to this question but clearly some combination of these four impacts would result:

  1. The land owners would get less money for their property when it develops.
  2. The developers would reduce their profit margin and/or pass along higher costs.
  3. The builders would reduce their profit margin and/or pass along higher costs.
  4. The home buyers would reduce the size of their home and/or pay more.

What will staff recommend to the city council?

It’s too early in the process to know exactly, but staff’s recommendation will attempt to strike a balance among many factors, including:  (a) Fairness to the existing rate payers; (b) The city’s ability to facilitate growth and new development; and (c) Not pricing new home buyers out of the College Station market.

This will continue to be a difficult issue over the coming months but I hope this blog will help increase understanding and promote a healthy dialogue.  If you have any questions, please leave your comment in the space at the end of this blog and we’ll try to get prompt answers for you.

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