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Kalispell impact fees could be seeing changes

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Nov 04 2013 05:50:46 PM MST
Updated On: Nov 04 2013 06:34:51 PM MST
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Kalispell is growing -- more people, more businesses, and more costs to improve and upgrade its infrastructure.

Bottom line -- someone's got to pay. That's where something called "impact fees" comes in.

According to the U.S. census, Kalispell's population increased 40 percent from 2000 to 2010, to 19,257 people.

As the city grows, so must its infrastructure; things like water lines, sewers, storm water, or law enforcement.

"One of the questions that's always there is how do you facilitate growth and having impact fees is one of those methodologies," said Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell.

We had Russell break down exactly what impact fees are and how they're used.

Here's how he explained it. Every time a new business or house is built, it uses up more of a system, like water or police. A fee is assessed to these businesses or house help build, maintain, or upgrade the infrastructure.

"Essentially it's a one-time fee assessed at the time of acquiring a building permit," said Russell.

Up first for discussion are water impact fees. The impact fee committee has recommended a 2 percent increase for them. For example, a three-quarter inch pipe is the most common water pipe used to bring water into homes or businesses.

Water impact fees for that pipe currently cost $2,213. The proposed increase would change it to $2,567, costing developers another $354.

We spoke with a few new businesses about how they feel about impact fees.  They say they wouldn't want to have to pay more money to start up their business, but they understand that changes need to be made.

Bottom line, increased fees will trickle down.

But Russell says everyone will benefit if the right balance is found.

"There is a balance in there and I think coming to that appropriate balance is that challenge," said Russell.

The city council reviews impact fees every 2 years, to try to keep them in line with what the city needs.