May 29, 2018

There were many comments in the Citizen Survey which should give the COWncil food for thought. We found the following comment with regard to Road Impact Fees especially interesting. “Given the outrageous amount of money extracted from only those people building or remodeling for “road impact”, it appears to me that money is used to run the town with almost zero visible spending on roads. This is basically a tax masquerading as a fee, and it’s levied against a small minority of citizens. There is simply no way that a typical project does the amount of damage corresponding to the fee amount, and turning around and dumping that money into the town’s general fund is fraudulent.”

In 1989, the Town inventoried and rated our roads using a Pavement Condition Index. They did this again in 1991 and found a much increased level of deterioration. This indicated that at the Town’s level of road maintenance was not “holding its own”. The Staff report at the time stated that it ” was evident that in many areas the structural section of the road was either inadequate or highly deteriorated; road shoulders were either non-existent or inadequate; surface drainage was either inadequate or poorly maintained; subsurface drainage was either non-existent or inadequate”. The Town did not have adequate funds to pay for repairs and so the Road Impact Fee was adopted.

In the adopting the Fee, the COWncil directed that these fees be kept in a separate fund to be reported on by the Town Engineer. “The Road Impact Fee is adopted pursuant to Sec. 66000 et sec of the California Government Code. Impact Fees shall be paid prior to the final inspection of a project; they will be retained in a separate Fund; an annual accounting of their use will be reported by the Town Engineer, all in conformance with Statute. Although our town collects the fees before the permit is issued.

Looking at the 2015-16 MID-YEAR BUDGET REVIEW, we were unable to tell if the funds are actually in a separate account and exclusively used just for road maintenance. The 2017-18 MID-YEAR BUDGET REVIEW points put that “Licenses and Permits have increased the most from last year by $241,700 due to increase in building permit fees.” It also states in current report : “Road Fund balances continue to be high because of the increase in permit activities this and last year.” Yet it appears that out of the $339,688 budgeted in the Road Impact Fund only $110,794 was actually spent. What happens to the rest of the money?

The more important question is whether Road Impact fees paid by people taking out building permits are the only source of road maintenance expenditures. What other sources are also used or could be used for these expenditures? Everyone, not just those who seek to improve their property, should contribute to the need for road maintenance.

These fees need to be looked at again as they are high and make the permitting cost of most building permits very high. No wonder so much un-permitted work goes on in this Town with its very high fees as well as the very long review process and its well-deserved reputation for unequal treatment.

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