Impact fees make a jump

By Michael Swiontek

DeKalb’s residential moratorium will expire Wednesday because two long-debated issues were resolved Monday night. The accepting of impact fees and residential design guidelines cleared the way for new annexation agreements.

The motion accepting impact fees passed 5-2, with the dissenting votes coming from 6th Ward Alderman Dave Baker and 7th Ward Alderman James Barr.

We seem to be going from below average impact fees to the highest impact fees, Barr said.

It could be easy to make small changes, and what is essentially a four-bedroom home could be manipulated into a one bedroom unit to avoid certain fees,

Baker said.

The residential guidelines passed 6-1, with Alderman Barr as the only opposition. The residential design guidelines will promote higher quality building in the area but will cost prospective buyers of new homes more. Also, we could price out members of our community with the added cost of homes, Barr said.

Also part of the debate, the District 428 school board requested two of the impact fees. A school capital and school transition fee – or impact fee – will help combat the financial issues caused by increased enrollment.

During negotiations area developers uncovered it was unconstitutional to use school impact fees to pay for teachers’ salaries as the city had planned. DeKalb consequently amended the proposal so that transition fees would go to facilities but not salaries.

“The City of DeKalb is way behind. These fees should have been passed years ago,” said 5th Ward Alderman Patrick Conboy, “It seems like we are tripling these fees when we are really playing catchup.”

Evidence of that, the DeKalb School District 428 is suffering the consequences of years of underfunding.

Area developers agree that impact fees are needed, but they disagree on the amount of the fees and the methods used to determine them.

Accountability is needed on how this money is going to be spent, said Mac McIntyre, executive officer of the DeKalb County Developers and Builders Association.

“I think approving these fees as drafted would be a big mistake,” said Brian Grainger, president of the DCBDA.

Mike Coghlan, legal council for the DCBDA, opposed using the Naperville formula that projects .695 students per household. He would prefer the city use data from DeKalb’s 2004 Special Census, which projects .434 students per household.

“We shouldn’t penalize people for thousands of dollars because of their political viewpoint on construction,” McIntyre said.

2nd Ward Alderman Povlsen, 3rd Ward Alderman Kapitan and Alderman Conboy all made comments showing they were offended by the statement that their choices were political in a negative connotation.

“This is a political body,” Kapitan said.