Several hours after Boise Mayor Dave Bieter's June 12 State of the City Address before a packed house at the Boise Center, the Ada County Highway District had a few remarks of its own.
In his address, Bieter made particular reference to what he considered business-unfriendly impact fees assessed by ACHD, referring to conversation that he had with a local developer who claimed that he was slapped with a $125,000 impact fee, thus killing his plans for a new restaurant.
"Impact fees are charged on traffic-generating development to pay for the new and improved roads needed to serve growth," wrote ACHD spokesman Craig Quintana in a June 12 evening press release. "The mayor's inaccurate anecdote appeared tied to a request for information a member of his staff made last week about a businessman's interest in an old retail building on Warm Springs Avenue."
Quintana wrote that the the estimated impact fee would have been closer to $54,000.
"It's a he said, she said," responded Adam Park, spokesman for the Mayor's office. "ACHD is providing one figure, the person who received the quote is providing another. Ultimately, they're missing the point. It's not about a specific project. it's about the fact that projects are being charged high impact fees, in or near downtown, where ACHD is not going to be doing any upgrades."
Park added that the impact fees are regularly used "to subsidize sprawl development in Eagle and Meridian that isn't sustainable or good for the community."
Park reiterated Bieter's argument that the impact fees have "become a disincentive for economic development."
"That's just not right," said Park. "it's a fairness issue."
Park said ACHD had committed to look into the issue and that Bieter wanted, through his State of the City comments, to have the "entire community to encourage ACHD to provide a new model that solves these problems."