Thurston County will begin assessing impact fees on new developments, including houses and businesses, in April.
The fees will pay for upgrades to roads, schools and parks, said Scott Clark, county planning director. The county commissioners adopted an ordinance Tuesday giving staff the go-ahead for the fees.
The fees will replace the State Environmental Policy Act mitigation fees that the county had used. The SEPA fees were subject to deliberation processes, and they could be used to fund only projects in the vicinity of the development or home being built.
Impact fee funds can be used countywide.
“Impact fees are more certain, more efficient and allow both sides to project costs better,” Clark said. “Developers know what they will pay, and the government knows what it will collect.”
The commission’s action disappointed Olympia Master Builders leaders.
“We firmly believe the development and housing community is an economic engine in this county, but having impact fees is certainly not a positive way to get that engine fired up again and lead us all to better economic times,” said Laura Worf, the group’s executive officer.
The group had proposed that the county phase in the fees, allowing developers time to pay, Worf said.
The county put off imposing the fees until April to give developers time to adjust and the county time to prepare, Clark said.
The impact fees levied will depend on the type, size and location of new projects, Clark said.
For example, fees for new projects in the southwestern part of the county would be less than those for projects in the northwest sections because there is less demand.
“The northwest is where we have the cities and urban-growth areas.” Clark said.