COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
Community Development Fees – Subdivision Ordinance
Consider revising fees in the Subdivision Ordinance
Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Kamptner, Graham, and Fritz
LEGAL REVIEW: Yes
September 3, 2008
ACTION: X INFORMATION:
The purpose of this work session is to receive Board direction on staff recommended changes to Subdivision Ordinance (“Ordinance”) fees. At the December 5, 2007 Board meeting, staff presented a Community Development Fee Study and a recommendation for a fee policy. (Attachment A) Given the limited amount of time for discussion and the complexity of the topic, it was not possible for the Board to give specific direction on revised fees. To provide adequate consideration of the fees, staff divided this task into several ordinances. The fees imposed under the Building Regulations and Water Protection Ordinances were reviewed at an April 9, 2008 work session and ordinance amendments were adopted by the Board on August 6, 2008. Today’s work session is to establish direction for the Subdivision Ordinance fees. Following completion of the Subdivision Ordinance, staff plans to bring forward the Zoning Ordinance fees.
Goal 5: Fund the County’s Future Needs.
The fee study presented to the Board in December 2007 identified County costs for fee related services, estimated revenue from current fees, proposed new fees, and compared the recommended fees to those in eight comparable localities. The fee study extract in Attachment A included an explanation of how the service costs were calculated and the algorithm used by the consultant in developing a recommendation for updated fees.
After reviewing past Board discussions regarding fees and the consultant’s fee recommendation, staff recognized it would be appropriate to consider simplifying the fee calculation process. To simplify, staff considered establishing fees at one-half of the County’s cost and retaining the fee at its current level where the fee is already greater than one-half of the cost. Fees were then rounded to the nearest $10. The concept behind splitting the cost of service was to recognize that part of the service is related to the property owner’s interest and part is related to notices and other non-mandated County policies and procedures that allow for public involvement. Staff then prepared Attachment B to provide a side by side comparison of the cost of service, the current fee, the consultant’s recommended fee, and a staff recommended fee calculated at one-half of the County cost. Staff also included a revenue summary for each fee concept in Attachment B. From this analysis, it appears the consultant’s recommendation and staff’s recommendation will generate very similar revenues in an average year.
Next, staff provided a comparison of fees for three common subdivision types in Attachment C. Recognizing that each locality has a unique fee structure, staff found it nearly impossible to provide a meaningful comparison of all fees. This simple table provides meaningful examples of how the fees compared with three common subdivisions. This table demonstrates that the fees are similar in most situations, but that there are a few significant differences. Among the most significant changes would be the fee for a family subdivision (Fee Study ID 90, Attachment B). Staff noted that localities appear to have differing goals in establishing fees for family subdivisions and recognized the Board may wish to treat these differently than other subdivision applications.
Finally, staff notes that some other localities are also attempting to develop a more consistent fee structure and recover a higher percentage of their costs. Chesterfield County is currently attempting to establish a fee structure that sets fees at 75% of its costs and Arlington County is attempting to set many of its fees at 100% cost recovery. Staff noted that either a 75% or 100% cost recovery would set many of Albemarle County’s subdivision fees higher than any of the comparison localities. There are good reasons for this higher cost:
In spite of adequate justification for a higher percentage of cost recovery, staff continues to propose a 50% recovery to be more in line with the comparisons localities utilized in the study.
The County currently collects approximately $145,000 from subdivision fees in an average year. Under the consultant’s recommendation, fees collected would increase to approximately $486,000. Under staff’s recommendation, they would increase to approximately $476,000, increasing County revenues by approximately $331,000 in an average year. Due to recent development trends, staff anticipates applications will be two-thirds of an average year for the remainder of this year and most of next year. Assuming the recommended fees were implemented by January 2009, staff anticipates a revenue increase of $100,000 for the remainder of FY 08-09 and of $200,000 in FY 09-10.
Staff offers the following recommendations:
1. The Board direct staff to bring forward changes to the Subdivision Ordinance fees as recommended by staff in Attachment B, with any other changes the Board determines appropriate.
2. The Board adopt the Resolution of Intent in Attachment D to amend the Subdivision Ordinance.
With the above direction, staff will proceed with bringing a Subdivision Text Amendment to the Planning Commission.
Attachment A – December 5, 2007 Executive Summary, Community Development Fee Study
Attachment B- Summary of Subdivision Ordinance service costs, current fees, and fee alternatives
Attachment C – Fee comparison for subdivisions in other localities.
Attachment D – Resolution of Intent to amend Subdivision Ordinance fees
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