City looks at impact fees

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Sealy City Council members last week continued talks on assessing impact fees for water and wastewater systems.

The panel unanimously approved an engineering services agreement with Strand Associates to provide technical assistance on the matter.

Impact fees have generally been described as taxes on new construction assessed to a developer; they’re paying for the impact they are causing to the community.

Roddy Williams, senior vice-president at Strand and Associates, explained the procedure to the council.

“One of the things, in your earlier discussions, for example, if we take a water line out to a certain site, and a sewer line, and [Assistant City Manager] Warren [Escovy] and I are going to look at an analysis of land use, that may have to get bumped up a little bit,” Williams said. “Plus facilities within your system may have to get increased. That is an impact fee analysis.”

Councilwoman Dee Anne Lerma pointed out that even though the consultant said he didn’t plan to spend the entire fee, the contract is for “up to $25,000.” Williams said he would verbally agree to not go over $12,500 without council approval.

Lerma suggested revisiting the matter at a halfway point.

“We could kind of see where we are and how much farther we have to go,” she said.

Escovy said that city staff has been working on the matter to combine the impact fee and the rate analysis.

“We save money by doing that,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure we’re not being charged more than we have to be, which is why we’re doing an impact fee at the same time as a rate study.”

City Manager Lloyd Merrell said impact fees could drop rates by 11 or 12 percent.

In other matters at the July 10 meeting, the council:

• Set a workshop on drainage and capital improvements for 5:30 p.m. July 24.

• Discussed holding at least two budget workshops later this month.

• Reappointed Sandra Vrablec as mayor pro tem. Councilman Larry Koy was opposed and attempted to nominate Councilman Chris Noack to serve in that capacity.

• Tabled discussion on appointing a parliamentarian. Mayor Janice Whitehead said the position would be “procedural,” and the parliamentarian would offer clarification on meeting protocols following Robert’s Rules of Order.

• Approved a list of surplus items for disposal by public auction, competitive sealed bid, negotiated sale, and/or destruction.

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