Board repeals impact fee hike - Most of those at a public hearing were against doing away with a planned increase in development fees.

Christopher Dunagan
Bremerton Sun Staff

December 9, 2003

Kitsap County, WA - Following a boisterous hearing Monday night, Kitsap County commissioners repealed an ordinance that would have raised impact fees on development next summer.

The decision came at 11:15 p.m. after a nearly five-hour meeting in which comments ran 2-to-1 against repeal. About 200 people attended.

Commissioner Patty Lent proposed the repeal even though she voted for the increase in June. She said Monday that even when she voted in favor of it last summer she realized the increase would not provide enough money to do what was needed for schools.

She said she is willing to work with the community to convince the state Legislature to provide substantial money to schools, which receive revenue from the fees.

Commissioner Jan Angel, who has maintained her opposition to impact fees, said the increase would have had dire consequences for the community.

Nursing home fees and hospital costs would more than double and costs to churches would go up by 150 percent.

"We're discouraging employers from expanding and we're encouraging them to leave Kitsap County," she said.

County Commissioner Chris Endresen, who has supported the fee increase, voted against repeal and read a long list of roads and park projects that would not be built without impact fees.

"I heard people say we don't need new parks or schools, and we should get transportation money from somewhere else," she said. "There is nowhere else."

Those speaking at the hearing included school district superintendents and budget officials, as well as taxpayers, developers and Realtors.

Jimmy James of Kingston cited a report from the Columbia Public Interest Policy Institute that said the average cost to a community of building a new home, including schools, utilities and parks, is more than $83,000.

James said he doesn't want to subsidize new people who often have better facilities than the existing residents.

"The impact fees don't come anywere near the cost that they (new residents) generate," he said.

But Richard Brown, a South Kitsap real estate agent, said government officials are always looking for new money.

"It's our money -- it doesn't belong to them until you give it to them," he said to the commissioners. "There will never be enough money to satisfy them for schools or parks ..."

About 200 people attended the hearing, where supporters of impact fees argued that the money is needed to support roads, parks and schools, while opponents said impact fees unfairly raise the cost of new homes and businesses.

The proposed impact fees, which were scheduled to go into effect in July, would have raised an extra $12 million over the next six years.

Costs for a single-family home would have reached $5,000 over the next three years in North Kitsap, more than $4,000 in Central Kitsap and more than $3,000 in South Kitsap and areas outside Bremerton.


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