When a subdivision springs up in the vacant field, it is a sure bet that water and sewer lines will be affected. The neighborhood streets will be just a little bit busier and a portable classroom or two might take up some playground space at the nearby elementary school. More children necessitate more parks and playing fields as well.
A building permit for a single-family home in Davis County runs about $8,000 with approximately 75 percent of that going to impact fees. These fees are used primarily for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance. Some cities in the county charge more depending on the size of the home. At $8,000 as an average, building in Davis County could be considered a bargain, when cities such as Lehi are charging nearly 50 percent more and some California communities assess upward of $50,000.
Impact fees are a fair way to ensure that the quality of life that drew residents to a community in the first place remains intact. Currently no city in Davis County charges impact fees for school buildings and this may be something that needs to be addressed. When a 200-home subdivision is developed, it logically follows that a new school won't be far behind.
Some may argue that impact fees are unfair because they only affect the new homeowner while the entire city benefits. However, busier streets and more crowded parks affect us all and long-time area residents have paid taxes for years to maintain the character of their community.
Where impact fees need some fine-tuning is when it comes to businesses. Building permit fees are assessed without regard to the type of business. For example, storage units are charged the same fee as a restaurant. The impact on the traffic and sewer systems of two such vastly different establishments makes it clear that business impact fees should be adjusted.
For all the fuss from some developers, impact fees are ultimately passed on to the homebuyer. A rough estimate is that for every additional $1,000 in price, the mortgage payment goes up about $10 a month. Most of us would agree that our quality of life is worth the price of a movie.
Raised in Davis County, Brandvold is employed in the financial industry-and proud to be a Utah Democrat.