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Cities Losing Power to Assess Fees on New Developments

Phoenix, AZ – Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation Tuesday which spells out in detail when cities can -- and cannot -- charge what are called impact fees on new residential subdivisions. These fees are based on arguments by cities that new residents and not existing ones should pay for needed new police and fire stations, water and sewer lines, and parks and libraries. Home builders lobbyist Spencer Kamps said there is a role for these fees.

(Impact fees are critical to providing new infrastructure. We've never taken the position impact fees need to go away completely. We've never, ever run legislation that advocated for that. All we want to do is pay our fair share -- and no more.)

For example, Kamps said it's not fair to charge a fee on new homes on one side of town for a park that's being built on the other side -- and not likely to be used by residents of the new subdivision. And when the park IS for the area residents, the new law requires fees to be based on a fair assessment.

(So if existing residents get one acre of park per thousand residents, new growth pays for one acre of park. You have to measure it. And you have to plan for it. And you have to charge the impact fee for it.)

Brewer said one reason she signed the bill was to create some certainty for cities for the near future. She promised to veto any new efforts by home builders for substantive changes before 2015. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.