New homebuyers in Fresno will be saddled with increased fees to pay for essential city services. But some in the home developer industry are unhappy the way the city will spend money designated for new parks.

The council voted on December 8  5-2 (with councilmen Steve Brandau and Clint Olivier in opposition) to approve a new level of fees addressing everything from street to public safety. A second affirming vote is expected at the December 15 meeting.

When a new developer builds homes in Fresno, the city charges them fees to help offset the impact of new residents. New homes mean more people. More people require more services: streets, sidewalks, traffic signals, police and fire, and parks to name more than a few.

According to city staff reports, the plan is to develop 121 acres of community parks and 296 acres of neighborhood parks to help accommodate an expected increase in population. However, some of those park fees ”will be used to repay outstanding debt service attributable to future development resulting from the 2008 Lease Revenue Bond sales.”

The Building Industry Association says that means that homeowners will be paying for existing parks instead of new parks in their area, in a letter sent to council. They estimate the split of the park fees 50-50 going toward new and paying for the old.

Mike Prandini, the association’s president, expressed concerns over the park fee while speaking to council. “We have concerns about the park (fees) on how they were established and some of the assumptions that were made,” he spoke in open comment regarding the fee debate.

“If we don’t this right, every fee payer will be filing a protest. The fees that you could be getting legitimately are going to be held back until it is resolved, and refunds could be required,” the association’s Jeffrey Reed warned council.

The park costs also include something called “Quimby” fees, which the city uses to help pay for park land and maintenance. For single family homes, those combined fees will increase by $476 per home (or $3878 per home total). However, industry experts are fuming over the fact that credits homebuilders received for developing new parks previously are being taken away, driving the price up further.

One industry expert tells GV Wire that the system before these new sets of fees was “build a park or pay fees.” Now, it is “build a park and pay fees.” Before, developers received credits to build parks that would help offset some fees. Those credits are estimated to be worth $2400 each. Thus nearly $2900 could be passed on to homebuyers on park fees alone.

The complicated system of fees depends on the size of the structure (both residential and commercial are included) and the area of the new development.  In fact, some of those fees are scheduled to decrease, such as police fees for new light or heavy industrial buildings (down by 30%). However, fire facility fees are up across the board, form 41% for single-family homes to a 1% increase for light or heavy industrial.

During the December 8 meeting, Olivier attempted to delay the fees discussion because of its complex nature. That was rejected by council. An accompanying fee vote on water was delayed for 60 days.

Disclosure: Granville Homes, corporate owner of GV Wire, is in the homebuilding industry and lobbied council on this issue.

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