Westminster weighs raising developers' fees

Planned increases to help city pay for rising demand in services, mayor says

May 10, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Fees that developers pay when building new projects in Westminster would be increased under proposals to be introduced at tonight's Common Council meeting in an effort to cover the rising costs associated with growth.

The water, sewer and capital benefit assessment fees for residential, commercial and industrial developments help pay for the city's facilities, such as roads and park construction and improvements to the water and sewer systems.

The proposed increases would help the city meet rising expenses associated with growth, increased demand for services and unfunded state mandates, said Mayor Kevin Dayhoff.

"We feel in the city of Westminster that it's very important that the folks responsible for growth pay for that growth," Dayhoff said. "It's growth paying for growth."

The proposals call for raising the water fee that developers pay when securing building permits from $3,300 to $4,370 on a single-family unit; the sewer fee from $2,750 to $4,580; and the capital improvement fee from $2,100 to $3,200.

Fees vary for other types of development, including industrial, commercial, schools and colleges, hospitals, and motels and hotels.

Westminster also charges for additions to existing buildings.

The proposed increases are based on a formula that takes into account planned projects and future needs for the city.

For example, included in the city's proposed $28.6 million budget for fiscal year 2005 are plans to build a $5.3 million water-treatment plant.

City officials raised the sewer and water development fees in 2000 and the capital improvement fees in 2002.

"We put off raising them as long as we could," Dayhoff said.

Each year, the fees are re-examined to make sure they cover expenses related to keeping up with facilities, such as roads and utilities, as new developments come on board, said council President Damian L. Halstad.

The proposed increases, which range from $1,000 to $1,800, seem reasonable, Halstad said.

"I think we'll look for clear articulation [tonight] on the formula that was used to make sure they bear reality," Halstad said.

If approved, the fee increases would become effective Jan. 1 so developers have time to adjust to the changes, officials said.

In other business tonight, council members are expected to approve the city's proposed spending plan for the next fiscal year.

After much initial debate, city officials decided against imposing a fee for residential trash collection. Instead, officials made cuts to several programs.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.