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Impact Fees For City Infrastructure Delayed 6 Months


Impact fees for city infrastructure won’t be implemented for at least another six months.

The Las Cruces city council voted Monday 6-0 to delay implementing the fees that would pay for major road and drainage construction until July 1.

The fees would be applied to any new commercial or residential development in the city.

Michael Walczak has been a property owner for about 4 years.

“There is just something satisfying about being a property owner. It’s my little castle I guess you could say,” said Walczak.

Michael moved to Las Cruces from Michigan several years ago to start a new career. He lived in an apartment first, then moved to his current house in Sonoma Ranch.

He lives in a newer part of the city on the East Mesa – one place where impact fees have been proposed on any new development.

The city council voted to defer those fees until July 1.

Michael doesn’t oppose the idea of impact fees, but agrees with the council’s recent decision.

“I understand the need for civic improvements…but in this economy those type of fees could really be detrimental to some”

Some like Steven Chavira, managing director of the Las Cruces Homebuilders Association. He’s pleased with the council’s decision.

“We still have a lot of work that needs to be done and some new work based off the discussions that they were having, but I think we met our objective,” said Chavira.

For a new residential house, the fee would be around $1000 or closer to $2000 depending on who you ask.

“It’s actually $1700 is that initial impact fee….The bottom line of a home is impacted significantly,” said Chavira.

The impact fee would have also applied to new commercial development.

“It’s also the business community and so I think that’s we took a big stride today in the growth of our community.”

Public works director Loretta Reyes is in charge of around $85 million in proposed projects. Not all of them will be built, but she says it’s going to be a busy six months while her department reworks the fees.

“We’re gonna be looking at those fees, at the projects on the list to determine how we’re going to be able to fund those projects…perhaps speaking with the homebuilders association and the Las Cruces realtors association as well,” said Reyes.

Impact fees are common in large Western U.S. cities, less so in cities smaller than Las Cruces.

The idea can be murky because a person can move from one house to a new one in the same city and be charged the fee while another person can move from across the country into a previously owned house and not have to pay the fee. But density and location all come into factor here. Just a few more things Loretta Reyes and her staff will be busy with until July.

Councilors placed an emphasis on finding the best way to implement fees if and when they go into effect.

“I think it’s important that we take some time to look at these fees, to evaluate how we are going to use these fees,” said Loretta Reyes, public works director.

Currently, affordable housing units are exempt from the fees, according to Reyes.