Cost of new ‘critical areas’ program hits tight budget
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Once completed, following the rules could be a “nightmare,” the City Council was told Wednesday night. One councilman branded the plan a “feel-good measure.”
For starters, complying with the new state law is going to have a steep impact on the city’s already tight budget.
Further, the plan will create another step some citizens will have to take when seeking building permits, according to Lisa Scott, the city’s community development director.
A “ballpark figure” on the cost to complete the critical areas assessment is $150,000 to $250,000, she said.
“This is one of those severely underfunded mandates,” Scott told the City Council. “And once this is done and we have this implemented, this is going to be a nightmare to enforce. Every single building permit will have to be reviewed for critical areas.”
The council passed a report last night authorizing the city to contract with a consultant in Olympia, HDR Engineering Inc., to complete a preliminary inventory, map the critical areas and help create a draft ordinance.
The first phase of the work will cost $25,240, of which $13,200 is covered by a grant from the state Department of Ecology. The second phase — the actual identification of critical areas and mapping — is what’s going to cost the most.
“With our budget problems we’re already having, this is not going to help,” Councilman Paul Fritts said. “Legislators talk a lot about unfunded mandates, but they don’t do anything about it. It’s a feel-good measure. It looks good in the paper and buys them some votes, but it doesn’t help cities.
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