1. #1
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    Post Town considering one-time charge to help buy new fire truck

    MANCHESTER, Vt. (AP) - The town is considering a one-time tax on
    a new development to help the fire department buy a $750,000 truck
    needed to fight fires in the new houses and stores being built.
    Fire department officials say the town can't afford to buy the
    truck with a property tax increase.
    "With all the taxes, we're trying to find a way to pay for it
    without hurting the taxpayers," said Fire Chief Norman Bowen.
    So the solution may lie in a one-time charge on new development,
    said Bowen,
    "It's been kicked around before," Bowen said.
    With a steady stream of new development of housing units
    sprouting up in several parts of town in recent years, there is a
    need not only for more equipment, but different kinds of equipment,
    he said.
    The new fire truck, which would be the most expensive piece of
    equipment the fire department has ever purchased, features a
    platform that could be elevated high enough over a fire that it
    could extend over a burning roof. That way, firefighters could be
    positioned at a safe distance from the blaze, but could also be
    close enough to direct water onto the fire effectively, Bowen said.
    The fire department will also be out soliciting contributions
    from businesses and individuals, and has plans for a mail campaign,
    Bowen said.
    "I don't think it's a fair way," said developer Tom Harmon.
    "I think you're focusing on one part of the population when
    everybody would benefit."
    The better alternative, Harmon said, would be to build the
    expense into the town budget or finance it through a fund-raising
    campaign.
    The idea of imposing impact fees to offset additional municipal
    costs directly tied to new development would be a step beyond what
    the town is already doing, said Town Manager Peter Webster.
    ---
    Information from: Rutland Herald, http://www.rutlandherald.com/

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    You know; we just had a meeting last night to figure a way to get a new rescue rig.
    Maybe I have stumbled on to something.
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    Nice something I can comment on. I'm a city planner and what this town is talking about is an Impact Fee for all new development. Here in NJ these fees aren't looked too highly upon because of the strong construction lobby groups.

    Anyway, that said, impact fees are a very good way for developing towns to make some money to offset road improvements, sewer line extensions, police and fire services, parks, schools etc. etc.

    Here is a good link to some sample ordinance I found online if anyone is interested in persuing this with their town council. I would recommend it only for developing areas though. The individual fees collected are not great (Thousands here and there) so without a large developing base you won't make much towards your projects. Estimates are usually required and even sometimes a bid so they can set up a special line item fund for, as this example, a new truck.

    Good Luck. If you need more info PM me.

    Sample Impact Fee Ordinance
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    We require new developments around here to help cover the costs of the new schools they require, so why not have them help cover the cost of additional fire protection?
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    A local department here did that about 15 years ago. They had a new shopping center going in so they had the company buy them a platform.

    As for impact fee's, stay away from them. A bunch of them have been overturned in Fla and the cities have had to pay the money back.
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    This is one of the issues that drives me crazy...lack of funding for even basic services. What were the first governments formed to do? Answer: provide basic services like fire, police and water. If a city doesn't have enough money to fund even the most basic needs then it is time to cut all the bs projects they do and return to the basics or to raise income.

    Since you are speaking of raising income then what may be needed is a combination of both approaches. Raise your taxes and create an impact fee. We have impact fees in KY and they are integral to fuel the requirements of new development. When a developer comes in and puts in 500 new homes should he just make millions at the town's expense? No. He should pay an impact fee to improve sewage to the area, water to the area, add more cops and firefighters, etc. Those are a direct result of his development's "impact" on the area.

    Your problem lies with a "one time" fee. In my opinion it is time to raise taxes. Maybe a dedicated "public safety" tax would be in order. Everyone will benefit from a new tower/ladder, not just the new development. However, please be careful what you ask for. When public funds start funding a project it comes under great scrutiny. Does your town need a tower/ladder or could it be served as well by a 105' or 75' stick? I am not saying you don't need one but just that you need to be prepared to justify purchases made with public money.

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    As for impact fee's, stay away from them. A bunch of them have been overturned in Fla and the cities have had to pay the money back.
    Dave, any idea of the grounds? They're very common nationwide.

    Maybe Florida has something specific in their state constitution?

    CR, and anyone else considering impact fees need to keep in mind that there's an inherent risk to implememting something directed at only new development in that they can serve to somewhat inhibit growth. In fact, in areas experiencing explosive growth, that is the intent of the fees. If you're talking about adding tax-generating businesses or residents be sure you know what you're doing. The short term gain might not be worth the risk.

    Ya gotta be careful not to kill the goose that's laying the golden egg.

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    We have impact fees here in Maryland, and the few court challenges to them were defeated. We probably have one of the higher fee structures in America, now at $20K per dwelling unit (and a formula for other structures) but Education is eating up $12K alone. Police and Fire get what's left. Infrastructure improvements will be covered by the Developers as part of the construction of their projects. Developers also donate land for "Green Space" projects such as parks and school sites.
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    Our neighboring community did the same thing a few years back. It was contested vigorously at first, but now the local developers have come to accept it. It has definitely helped the community with everything from upgrading it's domestic water and sewer systems to firefighting.
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    Originally posted by EFD840


    Dave, any idea of the grounds? They're very common nationwide.

    Maybe Florida has something specific in their state constitution?

    CR, and anyone else considering impact fees need to keep in mind that there's an inherent risk to implememting something directed at only new development in that they can serve to somewhat inhibit growth. In fact, in areas experiencing explosive growth, that is the intent of the fees. If you're talking about adding tax-generating businesses or residents be sure you know what you're doing. The short term gain might not be worth the risk.

    Ya gotta be careful not to kill the goose that's laying the golden egg.
    I dont know the details as its taken place in other areas of the state. All I know is when my department talked about an impact fee for new construction it was brought up.
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    It may have something to do with Florida's laws, we have the same thing here in Texas against those. I'm looking for the specifics, but considering that Florida and Texas are pretty similar in nearly every respect (no state or local income taxes, don't recognize national standards on Fire/EMS training, right to work states, etc, etc) I'm sure the laws are close.

    Impact fees have been around for a long time, I know as the little burb that I grew up in outside of Philly and the other towns in the county all assessed impact fees on any development. Shopping centers had to pay for putting in turn lanes and traffic lights, housing developments had to put in water, sewer, and drainage solutions for houses near but not in the development, and other such things. Nothing went directly for public services such as schools, police, and fire, that was all handled within the existing tax structure.

    I know a few developers around here have heeded the suggestions of putting in fire stations. HFD Station 83 was pretty much paid for by the developer of the country club that the station sits on the front of. Sugar Land hasn't paid for their last 4 stations I believe, the developers all ponied up for them. Whether they were 'highly encouraged' or liked the sales pitch of having a fire station right there to help sell houses, I don't know for sure. But creative funding techniques have to be employed as money is getting tight all over. I have to agree that just hitting the new guys for something to benefit everyone might not be very popular, especially when the developer may say fine, I'll do it, but the housing prices are going to go up to pay for it. In which case you could end up with a slower movement of people to the area, so the money flows in slower as well.

    Add in the fact that no member of the public ever thinks they'll personally need the fire department, so we (as the fire service) have to think of something that gives them a return on their investment in the local fire department. ISO is about the only way to hit people up for good ROI. Give us $50 a year in taxes and we'll drop your homeowner's insurance $150. To the average person, all they hear is they're keeping $100 in their pocket, and the powers that be think their fire dept is better, just in case something does happen. We can't tell them we need it to make them safer, because like I said, they don't think they'll ever need us. So we also have to get creative with other services, like inspections, car seat classes, fire prevention classes, etc, etc, etc. We can't just sit back and expect the public to agree to hand us money just so we can sit around the station and wait for a fire at someone else's house. It worked like that when the economy is good, but now money is tight. Businesses have to get creative with services to win customers' money, the fire service needs to do the same to win the business (tax revenue) from their customers. We always talk about how the cops get what they want, and it's because they are proactive. They are highly visible on the street at all times, preventing crime, or at least that's the PERCEPTION (reality) of the public's mindset. No one ever sees the fire department unless there's a call. Out of sight, out of mind.

    If fire departments want to stop their budgets from shrinking they're going to have to get up off of the couch and make something happen. You can't sit on your can in front of the TV complaining about low pay if you're not going to actively work to increase it. The public thinks there are less fires to be fought, and they're right, so they won't get on board for pay increases if they aren't getting something out of it. So the FD's need other services to perform to justify their existence. EMS is one, but if the FD isn't providing that, look for even more money to come out of the budget unless a good marketing campaign comes out to stop it.
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