The impact of impact fees 

Missoula City Council members will listen to the public talk about impact fees on April 5.

Impact fees—a horrifyingly nondescript word combination—are one response to a question: Who, really, will pay for growth in the Garden City? Impact fees are based on the idea that new development isn’t paying for itself. As more people trickle and pour into the valley, the city and county are obligated to provide them additional services.

“The fire station is sort of the big one,” says council member Heidi Kendall.

Actually, the city needs two new fire stations, she says. Taxes just aren’t going to get the job done—constraints on other revenue sources, she says, are great.

Those who support impact fees believe that folks moving into Missoula should, for instance, buy their own fire station—current residents should not have to pay for services that additional growth requires.

Builders, developers, real estate agents and the Chamber of Commerce are generally opposed to the fees, believing they will increase the cost of housing, for one.

Some council members would like to hear from the public directly—for instance, the homebuyer who is not a builder or developer or realtor.

Ward 4’s Myrt Charney says, “I’m waiting to hear what the public has to say.”

The general public, believes Council Member Ed Childers, probably won’t be showing up to give input on April 5. But, he says, they’re the ones who are paying: “The ox we currently gore is Joe Average.”

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