Fee vote has political impact for county commissioner - The Republican Party is upset with the first-term official for supporting the building fees.
July 9, 2003
Kitsap County, WA - Kitsap County Commissioner Patty Lent's vote
to increase impact fees on new houses and commercial buildings has
created a backlash from people who helped put her into office.
The party's executive committee convened a closed-door meeting with Lent on Monday night in which Lent defended herself against charges of betrayal, according to Lent.
"I had a chance to tell them that I have a strategy," she said.
Lent joined Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen in approving dramatically higher impact fees on new houses and commercial structures in unincorporated Kitsap County.
At Lent's insistence, the fees won't go into effect for a year and will be phased in to allow time for the Legislature to improve a local-option real estate excise tax.
If the excise tax is approved, the commissioners say they will repeal some or all of the increase in impact fees.
Lary Coppola, publisher of Kitsap Business Journal, said he feels personally betrayed because Lent pledged at least five times during her campaign that she would not increase impact fees.
"I personally moderated two debates between her and (former County Commissioner Tim) Botkin when this issue came up," Coppola said. "She either lied to the voters about impact fees or she lied about her qualifications for office.
"I don't think she has a grasp of the ripple effect that impact fees are going to have. When impact fees are so horrendous, it won't make sense for a business to come in here and create jobs."
Coppola said he has been contacted by several people asking whether he would support a recall of Lent. But that would require some kind of misfeasance, he said.
Vivian Henderson of Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners said her members are extremely unhappy with the Central Kitsap commissioner.
"I can tell you that I feel completely betrayed," Henderson said. "When she was running, she seemed to give one answer and now she is giving another answer. It makes me wonder where she is coming from."
Lent said she always has opposed impact fees, and she still does. Her idea was to increase the pressure for alternate funding for county schools, roads and parks.
She has helped form the AS IF Coalition -- Alternative Solutions to Impact Fees -- and will continue to work with local home builders, developers and real estate agents, who led the opposition to impact fees.
Under the state's Growth Management Act, impact fees can be used only to increase the capacity of roads, schools and parks needed to accommodate growth.
"I can't speak for Patty," Endresen said, "but it's my impression that she took the information, looked at the needs of her constituents and voted in their interest instead of a political party's interest."
With limitations on county budgets, Endresen said, impact fees are needed to accommodate new people.
Lent said she could have ignored the issue, but that would have removed
the pressure to solve the problem.
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