Archive for Sunday, February 15, 1998

FEES JUSTIFIED

February 15, 1998

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To the editor:

Thursday's editorial argued for the removal of the ``impact fee'' on new construction in Lawrence. Illogically, the article concluded that because the fees only raised $175,000 (''a drop in the bucket'') to help offset nearly $10.6 million in growth-related infrastructure costs, that the impact fees should be declared a failure and eliminated. Not mentioned was that just prior to implementation of the impact fee ordinance there were an inordinate number of building permit applications, hence the 12.5 percent shortfall in anticipated fees. This ``dip'' is a one-time event that will smooth out as time passes.

The rationale that owners of new structures should pay for infrastructure expansion is fair and logical. Indeed, that same fairness and logic are the basis for the county's policy that persons applying to join a sewer benefit district should contribute to the capital costs involved.

The city's ability to meet growth-related expenditures in highly dependent upon rapidly increasing property tax revenues. Last year they were 9.6 percent higher than the year before, which were 10 percent higher than the year before that. Should property tax revenues level off, there would be a need to increase the mill levy. Presently, growth does not pay for itself.

Responsible growth policies preserve the taxing jurisdiction's long-term fiscal integrity, and result in steady -- or lower -- (inflation adjusted) per capita taxes on its citizens. This applies to both capital expenditures and operating costs. If the growing tax base cannot cover both increased capital and operating costs, then the growth policies are inappropriate and will lead to ever higher per capita taxes. The first to be harmed by continuing such policies will be those on fixed incomes, followed closely by those in lower income brackets and small businesses.

It is appropriate for private-sector growth activists to promote policies that benefit themselves. It is equally appropriate for taxpayers, especially those on fixed incomes, to urge growth policies that are revenue-neutral. It is my hope that the tug-and-pull of this debate will eventually lead to growth policies that benefit us all.

Larry Kipp,

1029 N. 1750 Rd.

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