GFC

Government Facilities Charge (GFC) Impact Fee

With a huge increase in residents, one of the things the city of Black Diamond would need to expand are government facilities.  This includes a new or expanded city hall building, police department expansions, and public works facilities and equipment.

The Development Agreement from 2011 requires that the developer pay at least some of their share for this through a government facilities impact fee.  It set a temporary fee of $1,750. This had to be replaced by November of 2015 with a city ordinance setting a fee based on a detailed study.

The study was completed and recommended a fee of up to $5,800, but with a deadline approaching, the city council has not yet passed the fee.   There was some concern that the study included funding for things that were not clearly outlined by the city’s Comprehensive Plan. It was suggested to the Council in 2014 that they update the Comprehensive Plan to deal with this issue. They chose not to. They could have then adjusted the study or come up with a basis to set a smaller fee. They chose not to.

At the low end with the fee of $1,750 that the developer clearly thought was acceptable, the 6,000+ unit development would have set aside $10,000,000. At the study’s recommended amount, it would have been $36,000,000.

These kinds of fees are necessary to make growth pay for growth.  This was a promise made by all of Black Diamond’s elected officials. Without the fees, the city will have to raise taxes or reduce services to residents in the coming years as new houses are built.

Update: Oct 2015: Councilmember Janie Edelman wrote in a letter to the Voice of the Valley: “Failure to adopt a Government Facilities impact fee. The consultant did not use numbers consistent with our comprehensive plan. It would have cost the City more money to correct this error and the developer would not commit to further investment in this project. We are continuing assess all impact fees.” [emphasis added].

Ms. Edelman admits she wanted the developer to invest. She ignored the obvious opportunity to both pass a fair fee and to allow the developer to choose to delay or downsize a project that so many residents have expressed is over-sized and inappropriate for Black Diamond! It appears she has switched her position and supports the development.

Update, Dec 2015: Sadly, the deadline passed and the Council did nothing. They relied on a weak legal argument that the developer could challenge the fee, instead of looking at what they could have done to bolster their defense. They ignored information brought forth on the issue by Save Black Diamond and ignored a council meeting full of 20 people imploring them to pass the fee.

 

Resources to learn more about this developer Impact fee:

The city’s study of the Government Facilities Charge (GFC) begins on page 3 of this document: http://www.ci.blackdiamond.wa.us/Depts/Clerk/Ordinances/2014/14-1026.pdf

An explanation of Impact Fees from the non-profit Municipal Research Services Center: http://mrsc.org/Home/Explore-Topics/Planning/Land-Use-Administration/Impact-Fees/Types-of-Impact-Fees-and-Other-Sources-of-Public-F.aspx

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