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Impact Fee Study

2020 Impact Fee Schedule


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 initially adopted on December 11, 2012 with Resolution No. 14820.  The impact fees are updated on an annual basis based on cost increases due to increased costs of labor, construction, materials and real property through the capital facilities planning process.

The impact fee schedule for the Olympia, Tumwater, Rochester and Yelm School Districts was adopted with Resolution No. 14864.  The impact fees for school districts are updated by the County on an annual basis based on the latest capital facilities plan from each school district.

School District Impact Fees

Thurston County has interlocal agreements to collect impact fees for the Olympia, Rochester, Tumwater, North Thurston and Yelm School Districts.  A map of the service areas and associated impact fees is available above.

  • To see the interlocal agreement for the Olympia School District, click here.
  • To see the interlocal agreement for the Rochester School District, click here.
  • To see the interlocal agreement for the Tumwater School District, click here.
  • To see the interlocal agreement for the Yelm School District, click here.
  • To see the interlocal agreement for the North Thurston School District, click here.

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.  A map of the service areas and associated impact fees is available above.

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:

  • SEPA fees are negotiated between the developer and, public works department, school district and county for each project
  • GMA fees are established on a service area basis given the cost to construct transportation, park and school projects within the service area
  • SEPA fees are typically used to fund specific improvements in the immediate vicinity of the proposed development
  • GMA fees are used to fund improvements on the system within a service area
  • Smaller developments are exempt from SEPA mitigation fees, thus cumulative impacts from several small developments lead to impacts that are not funded by new development and must be funded from other sources such as property taxes or bonds and levies
  • GMA fees can be collected from all new residential and commercial development regardless of size