Council Will Consider Delaying Building Fees Until Homes Sell

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The Payson Town Council will decide at its Thursday meeting at 5:30 at Town Hall whether to give builders a break by letting them put off paying hefty fees until they actually sell the houses they build.

Currently, the rules require builders to pay thousands of dollars in fees for each unit at the time they get a building permit.

The town imposes a $7,500 per-unit water fee, and several hundreds or thousands of dollars in impact fees.

The council’s agenda for Thursday also includes a second reading of an ordinance requiring owners of exotic animals to get a permit and a new contract to provide emergency dispatch services for the Hellsgate Fire Department.

The council will on Thursday consider the second reading of a change in the ordinance that would instead let builders put off paying their fees until they get an occupancy permit, which comes at the end of the construction process instead of the beginning.

“This would just delay the fees, not negate them,” said Councilor Su Connell, during the last meeting when the council considered the first reading of the ordinance.

“This would not generally be used by a person building one home,” said Town Attorney Tim Wright. “But if you had 100 units and you were going to build four or five and sell them, then build the next phase — they would not have to pay all the fees until they sell the individual unit.”

However, a developer would have to pay all the fees within two years, whether or not he’d built and sold all of the units. Wright said that some cities have allowed builders to essentially promise to use the vacant lots as security, so the town would end up owning the lots if the builder didn’t eventually pay the fees.

The council generally supported easing the timing of the fees, in hopes of reviving the all but dead housing sector.

Building permit figures compiled by the town show that builders had only a handful of projects going in Payson during the last three months of 2010.

Back in 2008 during the October-December period, builders started four single family houses, seven mobile homes and 18 apartment units. The town’s building department conducted 1,282 inspections and collected $50,000 in fees.

During the final three months of 2010, builders started five homes, one mobile home and no apartment units. The town conducted 740 inspections and collected $37,000 in fees.

The council debated whether to require the builder to put up a bond guaranteeing the eventual payment of the fees.

“Seems like we’re making this more complicated than it needs to be,” said Councilor Richard Croy.

“What we can’t do under state law,” said Mayor Kenny Evans, “is to say ‘we trust you,’ even if we know you’re a good guy.”

Councilor Ed Blair said he liked the idea of requiring the builder to pay for a bond, guaranteeing the eventual payment of the fees. “I like the assurances. The one thing that bothers me is using lots for security — then we end up becoming real estate agents. Then what do you do if you can’t sell the lots?”

The town staff will likely work out the details of the security arrangements in advance of Thursday’s meeting.

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