In a 3-2 vote last week, members of the Fairhope City Council voted to table a request for the city to undertake an impact fee study.
Mayor Karin Wilson told the council the city’s last study had been done 10 years ago and it was time for a new study so the city could better allocate the funds created by the fees.
Local legislation passed a decade ago gives Fairhope to ability to collect a 1 percent impact fee on new building construction.
Wilson said the city could look to change the allotments for where the fees are sent within the city, but to change the percentages without doing a study could open the city up to a potential lawsuit.
“Because it’s been 10 years, we do need to update,” Wilson said. “You really do have to allocate percentages to each one of those groups.”
Wilson said that a majority of the fees currently go to the city’s parks and recreation efforts and she would like to see more of the fees go toward the city’s police department, storm water management and local schools.
Fairhope Building Official Erik Cortinas said when the original study was done in 2007, the council chose to spend the bulk of the funds on parks and recreation, as there wasn’t much of a priority put on storm water issues.
Cortinas said the firm came recommended from other Baldwin County municipalities.
“This firm did studies for Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Foley that are also charging impact fees,” Cortinas said. “From our standpoint, it’s worth it to have them provide us that information.”
Cortinas said city priorities may have changed since 2007 and an updated study would help better show where money should be allocated.
“Our circumstances are vastly different than 2007,” Cortinas said. “It would be to our benefit to have this study looked at and updated with new information.”
Council President Jack Burrell asked if any other firms had been approached for the study and questioned the $68,000 expense for the study.
Wilson replied it was already a possible budgeted item and that the $68,000 cost was “not much more” than the $60,000 the city spent for the original study in 2007.
Councilman Robert Brown made a motion to table the item so that the council could get more information, which was seconded by Burrell.
Brown, Burrell and Councilman Kevin Boone voted to table the item while Councilmen Jay Robinson and Jimmy Conyers voted against the motion to table.