Impact fee would benefit parks, not house builders

Charge aimed at ensuring new residents pay their share would cost person building new home $3,368
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

It’s about to become a little more expensive to build a house in Port Washington.

The Common Council on Tuesday held its first review of an ordinance creating an impact fee to help pay for park improvements.

The fee is intended to ensure future city residents pay their portion of the cost of new parks and capital improvements to parks, officials explained.

The city’s population is estimated to grow from 12,614 in 2020 to 14,168 in 2030 and 15,401 in 2040.

To serve the new and existing population, the city is expected to spend $3.2 million, Jon Cameron, senior municipal advisor for Ehlers, which conducted a park impact fee study for the city, told aldermen.

Of that amount, $57,000 will be used to meet current issues in the parks and $3.13 million to meet future growth in the city, Cameron said.

The new facilities include neighborhood parks in the Greystone subdivision as well as the Ansay property on the city’s northwest side and Tillman land on the southeast side, and a mini West Side Park.

It also plans to expand services at Antoine, Bley, City, Hidden Hills, Windrush and Woods at White Pines parks.

Cameron said that the impact fees collected must be spent within eight years, and they can be used to cover debt service for these projects.

The city is proposing a per capita impact fee of $1,123.

That means someone constructing a single-family home would pay an impact fee of $3,368. The fee for a duplex would be $2,470, while the fee for a multifamily building would be $1,347 per one-bedroom unit, $2,246 per two-bedroom unit and $3,368 per three-bedroom unit, Cameron said.

The impact on someone taking out a $315,000 mortgage for a $350,000 house would be $19 a month, he added.

The proposed fee would be collected when people apply for building permits, Cameron said.

Ald. Dan Benning asked if the fee could be adjusted based on the Consumer Price Index, especially in years when inflation has had a significant impact on costs.

That can be done, whether the city uses CPI or another index, Cameron said, adding that the city can adjust the fee annually or at the Common Council’s discretion. The city doesn’t have to adjust the fee using the full amount of the CPI, he added.

Mayor Ted Neitzke said his only concern is the possibility impact fees could deter someone from moving to Port.

The Ehlers study showed that the fee being considered by Port would rank it seventh among a group of 10 communities in the area, and behind both Cedarburg and Grafton.

The City of Cedarburg charges an impact fee of $6,691, which is helping to finance park improvements as well as water projects, its library and police department, the study states.

The Village of Grafton’s impact fee is $6,373, which includes funds for parks, law enforcement facilities and transportation costs.

The impact fee should be reviewed every five years, according to a council memo.

No one spoke during a public hearing on the impact fees Tuesday.

Aldermen are expected to take final action on the proposed ordinance when they meet Tuesday, Oct. 11.

This isn’t the first time the city has imposed impact fees. From 1999 to 2019, it collected impact fees to help pay for four projects — an upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant, additions to the fire station and library and the police station.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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