Innovate, not stagnate

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, June 30, 2016

Perhaps nothing makes for an effective a city manager like someone who is a former city council member and former city planning director.

That combination of elected official and department head and the experience that comes with it probably explains why City Manager Bobby Roberson came up with the idea to waive the city’s water and sewer impact fees for a period of six months, beginning July 1 and ending Dec. 31, in an effort to help stimulate residential growth. Waiving those fees would save someone building a residence $920, according to the proposal. Currently, the Public Works Department charges impact fees for water and sewer taps. The impact fee for a residential water tap is $332. The impact fee for a residential sewer tap is $588.

During its meeting Monday, the Washington City Council unanimously approved Roberson’s proposal, after some tweaking occurred.

“I’d like to thank Bobby for putting that together. I think that’s a good idea. It’s something really good for the city,” Councilman Larry Beeman said. His council colleagues concurred — enthusiastically. Instead of bemoaning the fact that residential growth in Washington is happening at a snail’s pace, Roberson decided to innovate instead of stagnate.

Roberson and the council understand that providing incentives for people to build single-family dwellings would result in a new house on the city’s tax rolls and add revenue from water and sewer taps and water, sewer and electricity usage. Although the impact fees are being waived for six months, residential customers would continue to pay $800 for a water tap and $1,000 for a sewer tap. Currently, a residential customer pays $2,720 water tap, sewer tap, water tap impact and sewer tap impact fees. Impact fees are used to pay for infrastructure improvements, not for operating the water and sewer systems.

Waiving the impact fees should be a win-win situation that benefits the city and those building new homes.

Kudos to Roberson for proposing the idea and to the council for approving it.