For the Record: Impact Fees Revisited

By John Watson

Citizen impetus caused the City of Littleton to enact impact fees. Impact fees are enacted to compensate the municipality for the loss of income from the creation of residential property zoning and construction which do not adequately compensate the city for services required, e.g.  Police, fire, museum, library, transportation and facilities.  The impact fees went into effect in 2015 for construction permits which were requested after the ordinance went into effect.  The state law requires that the impact fees be segregated funds and be used for the improvements identified, e.g. police, fire, museum, library, transportation and facilities.  At the request of citizens I have revisited the effect and practice of the impact fees on the City of Littleton.

Under the new administration at the City of Littleton (Manager Mark Relph) the staff was very courteous and accommodating as if they wished to help with this project. Quite unlike the pulling teeth experience with the prior management (Michael Penny).  The building department collects that impact fee when the permit is obtained. The Building Department furnished me with an impressive list of 55 pages of projects which paid impact fees since 2015. Due to the volume of information I will limit my discussion to the effect of impact fees in 2016. During that period the impact fees collected were $3,335,728. Impressive. The fees expended were less than half of that amount. The spent impact fees went principally for the Trailmark Fire Station. That is a tortured rationale for the use of impact fees for the affected areas since it does not appear that any of the impact fees were collected from Trailmark but most were spent there.  Another principal expense was a street in Littleton Village but that development is paying impact fees and that is understandable.

That information comes principally from the City Finance office. They pleasantly produced very transparent and detailed accounting records of the impact fees collected and expended. The information is available from the city website under the finance section as well. Impressive. The funds are segregated. They are properly collected by the Building Department at the time of issuance of the permit.  There is nearly $2,000,000 in funds collected from 2016 for expenses for the impacted areas.

The impact fees will always pale in comparison to the income from retail sales taxes but have been significant during this building boom experienced by Littleton since 2015 and will compensate the citizens for the expenses of the high density apartments permitted by the city. The performance by the new city management and staff is vastly improved. Impressive.

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