Council Members Explain Thinking Behind Impact Fee Votes - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Council Members Explain Thinking Behind Impact Fee Votes

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KALISPELL -

On Monday, Kalispell city council moved to more than double the wastewater impact fee.

It managed to just squeak by with a vote of five to four.

An average household now has to pay about $5,700 for this hook up fee alone.

The city is scrambling to find a way to pay for the 2009 expansion of the wastewater treatment plant.

The plant needed to grow to keep up with Kalispell's anticipated growth spurt, but that ended up falling short when the recession hit and now the plant isn't anywhere near max capacity.

That's when people started looking at impact fees to foot the bill.

"They're saying we're going to pay for this cost based off of growth, growth that hasn't happened yet," said council member Chad Graham.

Graham works in construction and voted against the hike. He says the new fee will slow, or even stop, growth.

"I look at growth as another funding mechanism for Kalispell," said Graham.

"I have never thought that development paid for itself, and further, I don't believe that development serves all citizens," said another council member, Randy Kenyon.

Kenyon comes from another school of thought.

Kenyon claims he hasn't seen any real, concrete proof that higher impact fees outright stop newcomers on their way to Kalispell. In these sort of talks, Kenyon keeps one philosophy in mind.

"When it comes down to rate payers and versus developers, I will always vote in favor of protecting the best interest of the rate payers," said Kenyon.

"Every little bit of the way you're increasing the cost to build a house, or a commercial building, that either A: comes out of the cost of land, or gets passed on to the buyer," said Graham.

Both men agree on at least one thing: Kalispell needs to start charging tourists who pass through town and use our bathrooms and public facilities.

Whitefish does this with a resort tax on things like hotels and other stuff you spend on during vacation.

It's an idea Kenyon would like to see here.

Tonight on the Fox Montana News @ Nine we'll meet a Kalispell developer and see how the latest increase affects his job.

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