Perhaps Water Impact Fees Should Be Higher

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by Jim Hippel

payson/phoenix

The article of Jan. 12 on impact fees is of considerable interest. Giving the local construction industry the power to review impact fees before they're implemented by the town is like having the fox in the hen house.

The tone of the article is that the present fees are the sole cause of a present slowdown in the building of new homes in Payson, having a dramatic negative effect on the town's economy. Building permits issued for homes (have dropped from 281 in 1999 to 243 in 2000 according to the town building department).

Construction is an important factor in the town's economic growth, but should it be showcased as the only industry that the town has or could have?

Unfortunately, the construction industry voraciously consumes two of our most important non-renewable natural resources, namely water and land. Both of these, in the long term, are in short supply in Payson.

To compare the Payson water impact fees with the lower fees of communities in the Valley is ridiculous. Queen Creek and Surprise have relatively abundant wells available from farming operations and access to CAP water, neither of which Payson has.

Communities in the Valley have a 75- to 100-year water supply while Payson is said to have only a five- to seven-year supply from present water sources. Where is the future supply of water to come from to support projected population and construction increases, and what will be the cost? Cost of exploration and infrastructure to deliver the water assuming it will be found?

The majority of the cost should be borne by new development versus the (residents) here who are already shouldered with a town sales tax, even on food, and high property taxes compared to many Valley communities.

Perhaps the town's present water impact fees should be higher, not lower, to accommodate this future need if population growth is to prevail. The apparent uncertainty of future water supply and its cost is indeed frustrating to everyone.

However, it is the job of town officials to responsibly manage and balance this need to the best interests of its citizenry and hopefully their favorable legacy.

Observing the problems with the supply of electricity in California, if it ever happens in Payson with water, we can all lock up our homes and move back to the Valley. Is that what we want?

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