Impact fees discussed in public meeting

RBC — Another public meeting to discuss impact fees proposed by Rio Blanco County to fund quantified capital projects was held March 12.
“We want to make sure everyone understands there are residential and commercial components to these fees,” said Jeff Madison, natural resource specialist for Rio Blanco County.
Madison gave the presentation explaining the proposed fees, provided for by Colorado state statute, to a full room.
State statute requires funds generated from the fees may only be used for quantified capital items and must be applied to a broad class of property. The statutes also have a provision for affordable housing. Madison said the county’s intention is to “take full advantage” of this provision.
Madison said the fees have been in the works since the Rural Planning Institute (RPI) completed a study in 2005. The study identified capital improvements in three categories: roads and bridges; law enforcement, including a criminal justice center and administration; improvements to the courthouse and other county office buildings.
RPI also came up with costs of more than $336 million for the capital improvements and used Equivalent Single Axle Load (ESAL, figured at 18,000 pounds on one axle) to arrive at the fees, which cannot just focus on the oil and gas industry but must also include new residential and commercial projects. The fees will only apply in unincorporated areas of the county, not in the towns of Meeker or Rangely. The cost per ESAL, used to calculate the fees, is $9.98. Fees are proposed at $17,931 per oil and gas well and $3,863 per 1,000 square feet commercial, ranging from $2,100 for manufacturing to $9,600 for a shopping center. The estimated fee for a new residential unit is $2,103. The affordable housing provision would exempt houses costing below $250,000 and excludes land price.
RPI used projections from 2005 to 2022, which anticipate a population increase of 2,820 over the current 6,249 in the county, 1,152 more residential units than the current 2,948 and 800,000 more square feet of commercial space.
There are currently 2,540 active wells in the county and RPI used Bureau of Land Management numbers to estimate 19,000 wells by 2022, an average of 1,100 new wells per year. Currently, approximately 400 wells per year have been permitted.
Madison said the fees are expected to generate between $5 and $6 million per year. They will continue to gather public comments with another opportunity to comment when they update the county commissioners at the April 14 meeting. A date has not yet been set for another review by the planning commission before final approval by the commissioners.
“I would like to see more input from businesses,” said Travis Day of the RBC planning commission after the meeting. “I don’t think they realize the impact these fees will have.”