Builders group sues Monroe over revised developer fees

By Christopher Schwarzen
Times Snohomish County bureau


MONROE, WA— The Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties has sued the city over changes in the fees that developers must pay to help build parks.

The association's lawsuit, filed last week, asks a Snohomish County Superior Court judge to strike down a recent change in Monroe's impact-fee ordinance.

The association represents more than 3,100 members, many of whom have worked in Monroe.

The city has maintained that the state Growth Management Act allowed it to increase the fees that developers are charged and change the way it spends that money.

Monroe's old ordinance had required that park impact fees be spent in the same section of the city as developments that generated the money.

But city officials changed the law so the money could be spent anywhere in Monroe. Fees also were increased to more than $4,000 per single-family home — an increase of about 400 percent, the builders association says.

The association says that by spending money anywhere within Monroe, the city isn't using those impact fees just for residents of the new developments.

"Our concern is that existing residents are going to benefit from new facilities" without having to pay for them, said Kim Butcher, a spokeswoman for the association.

"We support paying our share of impact fees, but we'd like Monroe to take another look at how to follow the law."

The builders group complained in November it hadn't been included in discussions when the ordinance change was under discussion. The City Council postponed a January vote to give the association more time to comment.

The council went ahead with its revisions by the end of the month, however, including the elimination of park fees charged to industrial and commercial developers.

Despite the loss of that revenue, the city expects to collect about $1.1 million annually during the next six years. The city collected about $76,000 in park impact fees last year.

City officials say they're not using development fees outside the state law's guidelines.

Though developers often add impact fees onto the price of a new home, city officials argue that new residents are only paying 70 percent of the costs to build and maintain parks. The rest of the money comes from current taxpayers, Monroe Mayor Donnetta Walser said.

"It takes a lot of money to build and maintain parks," Walser said. "And we'll continue doing it because it's one of the reasons people move to this city."

Christopher Schwarzen: 425-745-7811 or


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref.]

Back to Current Edition Citizen Review Archive LINKS Search This Site