11:15 a.m. DEC. 18: The council voted 4-3 to adopt a new maximum utility impact fee for new development. Here is video of the council’s discussion and final vote at their Dec. 17 meeting:
1:43 p.m. DEC. 17: Unless someone changes their position, the San Marcos City Council will vote tonight to implement a 25 percent increase in the maximum “impact fee” developers and homeowners pay for each new home they connect to the city’s water and wastewater systems.
Impact fees are intended to “cover the cost of impact on city infrastructure caused by new development. They work to help growth pay for itself,” Kristy Stark, the city’s Development Services assistant director, told council members earlier this month. “If growth does not pay for itself, then the burden is on our current ratepayers and taxpayers.”
Under an updated rate schedule, developers would pay up to $5,791 per living unit — $2,285 for water and $3,506 for wastewater — to connect to municipal utilities, a 24.5 percent increase over the current maximum per-unit impact fee of $4,651.
On Dec. 3, the council voted 4-3 to implement the new fee schedule with a majority comprised of Mayor Daniel Guerrero and council members John Thomaides, Jude Prather and Lisa Prewitt. Council members Ryan Thomason, Shane Scott and Wayne Becak voted against the fee increases. Under the city charter, the ordinance must be approved on “second reading,” a vote scheduled to take place during the council’s regular meeting tonight.
The council approved the fee increases over the objection of developers and homebuilders who say the hike will discourage new single-family home construction in a community that has identified nurturing family neighborhoods as a major priority. San Marcos’ new maximum fees are higher than those in New Braunfels (by 33 percent), Kyle (by 25 percent), Buda (by 18.5 percent) and even Austin (11 percent).
Due in part to university students and their peers — but also to depressed household income — only 27.8 percent of the city’s residents own their home, compared to 64.5 percent of Texans, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. More than three-quarters of San Marcos’ housing units are in multi-family apartment complexes, compared to a statewide average of less than a quarter
“This is quite simply an affordability issue. Every time you add $1,000 to the median price of a home in your community, 1,531 families — not people, but families — no longer qualify for a home mortgage,” said Kathy Comer, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin. “You are penalizing the fabric of your community — your teachers, your law enforcement officers, your health care professionals.”
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