Council approves raise in fees on new buildings

Officials say assessment will help pay for city staff, projects such as roadwork

July 23, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

The Westminster Common Council adopted an ordinance last night that will increase capital assessment fees on residential and commercial development by $1,000 - a move needed to keep pace with the cost of providing public services to a growing community.

Effective Nov. 1, the Special Capital Benefit Assessment - a one-time charge on new houses and commercial construction up to 5,000 square feet - will increase to $2,100. Commercial structures larger than 5,000 square feet will pay 32 cents to 42 cents per square foot, depending on overall size.

City officials said the fee will help pay for the cost of capital improvement projects such as street widening and roadwork, park expansions, recreation services and additional city staff.

A public hearing on the increase was held two weeks ago, but no one showed up to contest it or comment on it. Established in 1988, the fee initially was set at $700 and has been increased in increments of $100 since then.

In April, city officials conducted a cost analysis of parks and recreation services, municipal facilities, major equipment and road repairs that are paid for by the fee and developed a revised fee schedule. The council introduced the ordinance outlining the new fees at its meeting May 13.

In other business, the council agreed to reject bids for road projects - totaling $310,000 - and move forward with long-awaited work on Uniontown Road.

Thomas B. Beyard, director of the city's planning and public works department, said the Uniontown Road project has been a priority for years and completing that work would enable the city to concentrate on other roads.

Plans call for reconstruction of the road from West Main Street to Route 31. The project would be finished by spring. The road needs drainage facilities, sidewalks, a new water line and a new surface.

The rejected bids were for projects on Royer Road and small downtown streets.

Updates on parking garage projects also were discussed. The 163-car parking deck at the Westminster Square residential and retail center is expected to be complete in January. Bids for the Longwell deck are due back Aug. 20. That would add 200 spaces to the 125 at the deck.

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