Council discusses transportation impact fees

The city council, in its work session, received a briefing on the Transportation Impact Fee Study from Randle Harwood of planning and development and Jeff Whitacre of Kimley-Horn and Associates.

“We’ve seen enormous growth in the last 10 years, and this study projects enormous growth in the next 10 years,” Harwood said.

Whitacre explained that the impact fee is a one-time assessment to a new development to recover infrastructure costs. The study began in 2008, was updated in 2013, and has now been updated again for a five-year requirement and to be in line with the 2016 Master Thoroughfare Plan.

Whitacre explained that while impact fees for items such as water and wastewater can be used citywide, transportation impact fees must be used within a six-mile radius of the service area. Fort Worth has 27 service areas, including a new one with Panther Island.

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Over the past decade, about 50,000 residential units have been built in the service areas available, Whitacre said.

City council members set a collection rate of the current 34.4 percent, plus 25 percent for inflation, or a new rate of 43.3 percent. That amounts to about $3,750 per household. They original rate was $2,000 per household in 2008 and increased to $3,000 in 2013.

There are some discounts available, Whitacre said, including:

• Land use/transportation. For example, people walking to destinations around them, 15 percent reduction.

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• Adequate facilities, locating where infrastructure is already in place, 50 percent.

• Extraordinary project, meeting certain criteria, 50 percent.

• Non-residential uses, such as retail and restaurants, 25 percent.

District 4 Councilman Cary Moon stressed the need for more service areas.

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“We have a lot of open land, and not all of it is outside the loop,” Moon said.

Mayor Betsy Price asked what the feedback is from stakeholders. Harwood responded, “I think the nature of their input has been, ‘We don’t want more fees, but we understand there is growth that has to occur.'”

Harwood said he would call their attitude “reluctant acceptance.”

“Reluctant acceptance is what I’m hearing, but only if it’s not onerous,” Price responded.

“We need to be very careful about where we land in that comparison chart” with other area cities, she continued. Fort Worth’s fees are now in the middle. “We have to be very cognizant what this does to values and rent properties. This is a process we need to weigh out very carefully.

“We have to remain competitive in the market and it has to be balanced with the needs seen in the city.”

Whitacre projected that at the current growth rate, the net would be close to an additional $3 million annually, based on the current average of about $11 million.

The council is expected to consider an ordinance on the transportation impact fees at a Jan. 23 meeting. Whitacre said that if it is adopted, the tentative effective date would be April 1.