Salisbury Votes To Lower Capacity Fees By 60%

SALISBURY – The city is looking to become more developer friendly, as the City Council voted this week to decrease capacity fees by 60 percent.

On July 16, the City Council held a work session discussing water/sewer capacity fees and an updated financial forecast was presented. At that time the council was in consensus to move forward with an ordinance setting capacity fees lower.

According to the ordinance that was presented on first reading this week, the new Capacity Unit Fee is proposed to be $3,392 per EDU, and any amount collected on or after July 1, 2012, in excess of the new rate shall be refunded. The current Capacity Unit Fee is $8,508.

Public Works Director Teresa Gardner explained that the Capacity Unit Fee calculation is based on the growth-related projects contained in the current Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and the unpaid balances of recently constructed improvements.

Gardner furthered that the capacity fee program was intended to pay for capacity in Salisbury’s water and/or sewer system.

“When the fee was developed, the economy was booming and the city’s position was that ‘growth should pay for growth’,” Gardner said in March. “Because of the drastic decline of the economy, the slow recovery and the financial burden the wastewater treatment plant has placed on the city, Public Works has been re-evaluating how we do business. We have been examining our debt and developing a reduced CIP program that is based on a more realistic estimate of our ability to borrow.”

Brad Gillis, representing the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce, spoke in favor of the decrease.

“In the face of continuing economic slowdown realizing fees for construction will help put people back to work, a message to the business community must be the whole community welcomes expansion of existing businesses and the location of firms who will enhance our community,” he said. “The reduction of the costs of capacity fees by $5,000 will definitely help convince developers and local business people to invest in Salisbury.”

Council President Terry Cohen reviewed the process over the last few months to get to the proposed figure.

“We have gone over the numbers, we have gotten the information we were looking for out of the administration, the next step will be to keep an eye on it as things develop in Salisbury,” she said. “We don’t want to get behind the curve again because while it is important to make the numbers available for people to build at the same time if you let that get too far ahead then you find the people that already paid their dues are now paying somebody else’s dues …”

With the council voting unanimously, the ordinance will have its final reading on Aug. 13.