Bonney Lake temporarily reduces building fees to spur development

Attempting to spur development, Bonney Lake on Tuesday temporarily lowered several of its development fees as a way to encourage new business to locate in the city.

The two ordinances temporarily eliminate the city’s traffic impact fee for qualifying businesses as well as reduce sewer and water system development charges by 30 percent each.

Both ordinances passed unanimously, 5-0. Councilmen Jim Rackley and Donn Lewis were excused form the meeting, but each expressed support of the measures during the prior week’s workshop.

The pair of ordinances are set to expire in one year.

“This is a step in the right direction to hopefully capture some retail investment out there and keep things moving,” Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said in support of the traffic measure.

All new businesses in the downtown core are eligible for the traffic fee reduction, as are Eastown and Midtown businesses that will generate $15,000 per year in sales tax revenue over a three-year period.

In addition all sit-down restaurants that generate $20,000 per year in sales tax for three years are eligible.

Fast food and other counter-style businesses are not eligible.

A special $500,000 fund will be created, most likely using money originally set aside to pay for a YMCA, to make up the difference.

The concept is an expansion of a previous program that no builders took advantage of.

Also under the new ordinances, the water development charge on commercial buildings will drop from $10,334 to $7,234 and the sewer charge would drop from $9,277 to $6,494.

For a single family home, the water rate would drop to $5,689 from $8,328 while the sewer development charge would lower to $6,571 from $9,387.

Bonney Lake’s development charges and fees have long been among the highest in the county and several councilmembers have urged a drop in rates as a way to reinvigorate building in the city.

Councilman Mark Hamilton voted in favor of the measures, but said he was apprehensive, especially regarding the water and sewer fees. Hamilton said he worried that the loss of system development money, which is designed to pay for future expansion of the system, could fall back on the ratepayers and he did not want that passed through.

But he said he was supporting it because it automatically sunsets, though he said he wants the utility funding monitored closely.

Swatman thanks Hamilton for his support of both measures and greed that it was important for the administration and the council to keep up with the financial effects on the city’s utilities, though he also reiterated that he though the measures, which he called “targeted” were important to try and stimulate growth.

“We’re trying to capture some opportunity out there,” Swatman said. “We’ll see if it will work.

“All we can do is try.”