By Sally Gillie, Monitor
The Monroe Planning Commission has voted 6-1 in favor of a recommendation to lower school impact fees, those fees charged to builders for new home construction in the city. The commission also endorsed a proposal to amend the city’s comprehensive plan, taking out regulatory language in that plan dealing with school mitigation policy.
The action was taken at the Oct. 22 planning commission meeting, with commissioner Dave Demarest casting the only dissenting vote on both recommendations.
The commission’s findings will be forward to the city council for review. The council is expected to make its final decision on mitigation fees at its Nov. 6 meeting.
There are two proposals put forward for council consideration. The first is to remove the current regulatory language regarding school impact fees from the city’s comprehensive plan, which includes a policy endorsing the 25% discount. In doing so, the matter of school mitigation fees will be placed under the administrative control of the city council, making it easier for the council to make future discount changes.
The second proposal includes revising the city municipal code to adjust the discount rate to 50%. That discount represents a savings of $1,984 for each new single family dwelling built in the city, and a savings of $3,172 for each unit in a multi-family dwelling.
In reaching its decision, the planning commission considered citizen testimony given at an Oct. 15 public hearing, which included two members of the Monroe School District Board of Directors and four others who spoke against lowering mitigation fees. Three of those who testified were in favor of reducing the fees, two of those representing the building community.
The commission also reviewed a letter and supporting materials from the president of the Monroe School Board opposing a fee reduction.
In putting forward its proposal to lower mitigation fees, the city argues that the higher fees now charged to builders are making Monroe a less desirable place to build new homes. School impact fees are currently discounted 50% in unincorporated Snohomish County, as well as in most other county jurisdictions, and adopting the higher discount rate here will make Monroe more competitive in attracting new construction.
Commissioners delayed making their final recommendation until this week to give them time to review testimony and supporting material from those on both sides of the issue.