Wastewater Impact Fee May Finally Move Forward - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Wastewater Impact Fee May Finally Move Forward

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KALISPELL -

Impact fees are a hot button issue in Kalispell this city council election season.

It has taken almost a year to get to this point: Tuesday, October 22 at 4:00 p.m., the impact fee advisory committee will finish reviewing the wastewater impact fee report.

"The problem is the way the formulation is, it doesn't make it fair, especially in competition," said Chad Graham, a committee member.

Graham has a background in construction. He worries the proposed hike of more than $2,000 could staunch growth, a stumbling block that might force businesses to look to break ground elsewhere. He says he has seen it done before.

"Cabella's, Sonic--all these new businesses rolling in north of town, a fair case could be made, and I think this was a part of it, that the repeal of the transportation impact fee facilitated some of that," explained Graham.

It is supposed to be new growth paying for new growth, a one-time fee to plug into utilities, but Graham claims that system could apply pressure unevenly if in the span of a week the cost of starting a business in Kalispell almost doubles.

"They don't disagree that there's a hook-up fee or an impact fee that needs to be paid," said Graham, "That's never been a contention. It's the methodology and the formulation."

The main reason behind the proposed increase is the $22 million expansion of the wastewater treatment plant back in 2009. Now someone needs to foot the bill.

"The increase in that wastewater treatment plant needs to be made up," Graham pointed out, "The discussion is where."

Graham says the committee will be able to make a final recommendation during the October 22 meeting, which will then go on to city council. Doug Russell, Kalispell's city manager, says they will be talking about that in a work session sometime in late November.

Russell also says city council will be able to make a decision regarding wastewater impact fees soon after the work session.

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