What follows is a letter submitted by the Tri Cities Home Builders Association's Reneé Dahlgren to the Pasco City Counsel and the Franklin County Commissioners in opposition to the proposed Pasco School District impact fees. We too are opposed to the idea and HBA's letter sums up our thoughts exactly.
On behalf of the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities (HBA), I would like to submit our opposition to proposed traffic impact fees suggested by the Pasco School District's Superintendent in the December 2nd article in the Tri-City Herald. First, we fully understand the need for the Pasco School District to find ways to fund their capital projects. Our members don't just build in this community – they live and play here too, and their children attend our schools. Like everyone else, we believe in the importance of public education and the need for funding for our schools. However, school impact fees are not the way to do that – in the long run, they do more harm to a community than good. Following are just a few of the arguments against impact fees.
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- Impact fees are wholly manifested in higher prices of homes and a reduction in growth and development of an area. The Tri-Cities area has been able to maintain relative stability in this downturned economy – instituting impact fees, or effectively imposing taxes on certain areas, is not the right thing to do in order to maintain a healthy economy. Increasing the price of a home through new fees and taxes simply prices people out of the market – depriving people of the American Dream. The City of Pasco has been the epi-center of growth and affordable housing in our region, but a $6,000 increase in the price of each home will most certainly change that.
- Nominally regarded as a tax on development by government, impact fees are in fact computed in the price of a new home. True, developers and builders initially pay the impact fees. However, like any other tax or fee associated with the production of a product, the costs are then passed along to the consumer. This cost goes beyond the initial cost because most consumers finance these fees into their loan and pay interest on these fees.
- Impact fees are an unfair tax on an industry that already pays their own way, and a way to stifle growth and economic development. The HBA commissioned a study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in February 2009. This study, a copy of which will be sent to your Building/Planning Departments Director, found that for every 400 single family homes built in the City of Pasco, the one-year, local impacts were equal to $51.6 million in local income; $7.5 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and 855 local jobs. In addition, those 400 homes generate substantial ongoing annual local impacts, including $10.1 million in local income; $4.0 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments and 189 local jobs. These numbers prove what builders have always known to be true – that growth and development already pays its own way – and in fact, pays more than its share because of these ongoing annual impacts.
- New developments and homes already pay significant amounts in fees and other taxes – just like everyone else – and because of that, they should not be unfairly burdened with new taxes and fee structures. Growth and development benefits the entire community – not just one neighborhood.
- Impact fees unfairly target new construction, deter growth and development, and artificially raise the cost of housing. We urge the City of Pasco and Franklin County to consider these arguments and oppose the use of impact fees. The best alternatives to impact fees are broad based-solutions where new construction is not singled out. Broad-based taxes or fees allow the entire community to pay for something that we all benefit from. Feel free to contact me to discuss our comments.