Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington Q&A on impact fees.
The Washington State Legislature passed Engrossed Senate Bill (ESB) 5923 was on May 11, 2015, and amended Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 82.02.050 to require counties collecting impact fees under Ch.36.70A RCW to adopt and maintain a program deferring the collection of impact fees on single-family detached and attached residential construction for a period not to exceed 18-months for the first 20 homes (or more, if allowed by the County), with the condition that the applicant, if they choose to participate, must record a “deferred impact fee lien against the property” in favor of the County. The legislation also requires that the County keep an accurate record of any and all deferrals, and that these provisions be in place by September 1, 2016. In addition, the proposed amendments include adding language allowing for the collection of impact fees on behalf of Fire Districts that serve rural Thurston County.
2016 Impact Fee Schedule
The 2015 Impact Fee Schedule has been amended to reflect changes in the capital facilities planning for school districts and for construction costs.
Impact fees are a type of one-time charge developers pay to help finance their proportionate share of the cost of the roads, parks, schools and other facilities necessary to serve their new developments. Impact fees are usually due at the time a building permit is issued. The funds collected cannot be used for operation, maintenance, repair, alteration, or replacement of existing capital facilities and cannot just be added to general revenue. The amount of the fee must be clearly linked to the added service cost, not some arbitrary amount.
Thurston County Impact Fees
On December 11, 2012, the Board of County Commissioners passed Ordinance No. 14819 adopting the Thurston County Impact Fee Ordinance into the Thurston County Code as Title 25. Impact fees will begin on April 2, 2013.
The impact fee schedule for parks and transportation was adopted on December 11, 2012 with Resolution No. 14820.
School District Impact Fees
Thurston County has interlocal agreements to collect impact fees for the Olympia, Rochester, Tumwater, and Yelm School Districts.
Transportation Impact Fees
Transportation impact fees are collected in unincorporated Thurston County. Impact fees are based on the proposed use and the location of the project in the County. The County is divided into six service areas.
Impact Fees and the Growth Management Act
The Revised Code of Washington 82.02.050 (2) authorizes counties required to plan under the Growth Management Act to "impose impact fees on development activity as part of the financing for public facilities..." GMA impact fees are only authorized for: public streets and roads; publicly owned parks, open space, and recreation facilities; school facilities; and fire protection facilities in jurisdictions that are not part of a fire district. Setting fee schedules for impact fees is a complex process typically involving rate studies.
Impact Fee Study in Thurston County
To determine the feasibility of establishing GMA Impact Fees, Thurston County commissioned an Impact Fee study to determine development/growth related cost to construct transportation, parks and school infrastructure. The consultant reviewed county and school capital facilities plans; proposed services areas and proposed fees for each transportation, park and school district service area. Proposed school impact fees are based on the school’s capital facilities plan. The consultant has met with the Olympia Master Builders, School and Fire Districts to hear their issues and recommendations and presented their feedback into discussions with the Board of County Commissioners. At this time, a draft impact fee ordinance is ready for public testimony. The following goals were used to develop the proposed impact fee system:
1. equitably recovers the cost of county transportation, recreation, schools and fire protection improvements as a result of new development;
2. is less of an administrative burden to Thurston County, school districts, fire protection and the development community than the current SEPA mitigation process; and
3. provides the timely and equitable financing of public services and improvements to mitigate and prevent impacts from new development.
The collection of fees to fund public infrastructure is not new to Thurston County. The county has been collecting SEPA impact fees for the last twenty years. The primary differences between SEPA and GMA impact fees are:
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