Ada County is putting together a plan to collect impact fees, a fee paid by developers that would go toward the county’s capital expenses related to growth.
The fee proposal has been in the works for several months, but Ada County officials need to determine if they can work with cities within the county’s boundaries to raise enough funds to pay for its rapid growth.
Ada County estimates that if growth continues at its current rate until 2040, the county will be looking at $690 million deficit in capital costs for sheriff’s department spaces, fire stations and other key pieces of infrastructure, if cities and the county build out to what current comprehensive plans predict.
Impact fees would be a way to help fill the funding gap.
To collect impact fees, a government agency must take a number of steps:
- Determine its current level of service;
- Adopt a capital improvement plan to identify where funds will be spent;
- Enact an ordinance that allows the agency to collect and use those impact fees.
In Ada County, impact fees could pay for growth-related capital expenses related to paramedics, law enforcement and coroner services.
The county is exploring collecting impact fees not just from developments in unincorporated county, but within city limits as well, where there’s much more development and revenue potential. To do so, the county would need to sign a memorandum of understanding with each city.
“There is a massive difference because growth and development is happening in city limits,” Ada County Community Planning Manager Jason Boal said. “We can definitely adopt the ordinance and implement it in Ada County, but for it to really make a difference in those services, we really need the cities to come on board.”
Ada County is in the process of hiring a consultant who would help determine the county’s impact fee rates for housing and commercial developments.
“There is a complex formula laid out in state code for how we can develop that fee,” Boal said. “I had some rough numbers in my report, but we want to hire a consultant to review and refine the numbers. The amount we charge would not be an arbitrary amount. It would be based on current capital, future improvements and anticipated growth.”
The sheriff’s office, jail, coroner’s office, parks and waterways and paramedics are all services that cities and their residents use. And because the population of Ada County is growing so swiftly inside cities’ limits, the county is hoping to cash in on that growth, but county officials would have to make deals with cities separately.
“(The process) does require us working with the cities. We can sign a memorandum of understanding, and the state code does provide that,” Boal said.
No final decision on implementing fees has been made yet. If everything continues on target, the county will have an amendment to its Comprehensive Plan allowing for impact fees up for debate by October.