COOLIDGE — Despite some hesitation, as questions regarding a few outdated figures outlined in the initial study arose, the Coolidge City Council ultimately adopted a Land Use Assumption and Infrastructure Improvement Plan that suggests a number of changes to the city’s impact fees in hopes of helping to rev up development.
The study, put forth by fiscal, economic and planning firm TischlerBise, recommends an 8% increase in the total impact fees the city charges per single-family home while zeroing out fees collected for services like library and police. The proposed schedule also reduces the amount of fees collected for fire services.
The council approved the adoption of the overall plan Monday evening, which includes an improved schedule that would raise fees from $6,380 to $6,902. However, Development Services Director Gilbert Lopez noted that the council would not vote to adopt the new impact fees until later on in the year.
Although the new plan was unanimously approved, with Councilman Jimmy Walker absent, some council members did not agree with all of the insights the report offered.
“Looking at this plan I see that they (TischlerBise) didn’t put anything in there for anticipated new park land purchases over the next 10 years,” Mayor Jon Thompson said. “So the park land component has been excluded from the city’s development fees calculations.”
According to the report, the city currently does not anticipate purchasing any new park land. In addition, it outlines that any additional parks would likely be donated by an incoming developer.
Coolidge has a total of 12 parks.
However, Thompson suggested that if the current trend in growth continues, there may be need for additional parks down the road. He also voiced some concern about depending on developers to implement new parks.
But Lopez noted that outdoor features are typically part of planned area developments submitted by home developers for the city to review. Any changes to an outdoor component of a proposed subdivision would also have to be approved by the city.
Still, there was some concern about how the study calculated the anticipated growth for the region.
The report is primarily based on data collected from 2016, at which time the city saw an average of approximately 68 new residential permits per year. Based on those figures, the report projects that Coolidge’s population will add about 1,836 residents by 2028.
But, Thompson noted that thus far in 2019 the city has processed well over 100 permits.
According to Lopez, however, the infrastructure improvement plan is flexible. Adjustments can be made to the plan within five years should the city need to capture additional fees.
“We saw this as an opportunity to stimulate the economy and get the housing (market) going,” Lopez said. “Then we can adjust as we go forward.”
In addition to the changes in the proposed impact fees, City Manager Rick Miller noted that Arizona Water Company has agreed not to charge a connection fee, estimated to be about $3,000, for an unspecified time period.
“They were very generous in basically helping stimulate a little (economic) activity here by basically eliminating that connection fee for the time being,” he said. “As things start picking up again they might have to reimplement the fee to keep up.”
The council will likely adopt the new development fees in October. If adopted, the new fee schedule would go into effect on Jan. 1.
During Monday’s regular meeting, the council also adopted an ordinance maintaining the city’s current property tax levy at about $1.88 per $100 of net assessed valuation for the fiscal year 2019-20.