Solomon: Let’s Talk Fees – City of Tucson Impact Fees

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Allyson Solomon, ED, MPA

By: Allyson Solomon, Executive Director, Metropolitan Pima Alliance

In 2011, the Arizona legislature passed comprehensive changes to the state’s development impact fee enabling act, putting in place regulations on how the incorporated municipalities would assess, collect, spend and report their fee program. The legislation put in place more transparent and predictable processes to try to ensure new development only pays a proportionate share for the costs of the new infrastructure. The legislation set up processes by which the fee studies are created and approved before the impact fees are determined, separating out the process into two approvals.

The first approval is for Land Use Assumptions (LUA) and Infrastructure Improvement Plans (IIP). These two legally required documents establish baseline data for development growth and define the projects to be completed with the collected impact fees. The second approval is for the fee amounts, determined by the LUA and IIPs.  Both are approved by the local governing body after a public hearing process.

In the fall of 2018, the City of Tucson began their update, hiring TischlerBise to consult on the process and help develop the City’s LUA and IIP. The City began the first phase with the publishing of their draft reports in August 2019, and will be conducting a Public Hearing on these reports on February 4th with an Adoption Hearing scheduled for March 17th. The second phase will begin with the release of the final adopted Development Impact Fee Report to be shared at the April 21st Public Hearing, and will conclude with the June 9th Adoption Hearing (dates tentative).

The City’s Mayor and Council are currently underway with approving the proposed LUA and IIPs, with the first public hearing occurring on February 4th, 2020. Staff has released to Mayor and Council an updated fee table along with a list of recommended changes to the two reports. MPA has worked closely with both our members to aid City staff in developing these recommendations and has submitted a letter to Mayor and Council, in advance of the Public Hearing, in response to staff’s recommendations.

While MPA has a history of supporting reasonable impact fees, as such MPA understands the purpose of impact fees and the goal of not overburdening existing residents with the costs associated with new growth; however, we will continue to collaborate and to strongly encourage the City to ensure that the policies and fees put into place are not burdensome to development, but rather are fair and equitable.

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