City working on helping homebuilder

Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson told members of the City Council the city is developing a plan to help home builders.

Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson told members of the City Council the city is developing a plan to help home builders.

During a Feb. 17 council workshop, Planning Manager Heather Stinson presented the council with the Planning Commission’s annual work plan, which includes consolidation of past projects plus suggestions added by the council. Most of the work plan was focused on home builders and what the city can do to assist them.

Johnson said he and City Administrator Don Morrison have discussed plans for sales taxes incentive. He said those plans will be presented to the council in the near future.

The mayor said he contacted people involved with a restaurant chain that was seeking to relocate and asked how Bonney Lake’s impact fees compare to those found in other cities.

“We want to get some input on our impact fees and where we stand in the market,” Johnson said.

He said the city’s sewer and water impact fees are comparable to other cities, but the traffic impacts fees are four to five times higher than fees found in California.

Councilwoman Laurie Carter said she believes there is a way to get people with partially constructed homes and duplexes motivated to complete their projects.

“They need some type of incentive or some way to get those houses and duplexes built, instead of sitting around getting permit extensions,” Carter said. “There has to be some way for us to get our own stimulus package to get some houses built and revenue from those houses, instead of property sitting vacant.”

Also on Feb. 17, the council discussed a service agreement with the Bonney Lake Chamber of Commerce.

The agreement, which calls for funding of $15,000 a year, includes marketing brochures, a business directory, working with businesses, reporting to the city of business activities, and other general services.

Morrison said money for the agreement has been in the city’s budget since 2007.

Councilman Mark Hamilton said his main concern about the agreement was financial.

“We need to get the best bang for our money,” he said.

Hamilton asked Morrison about the ultimate goal – whether it is to help the chamber or help city businesses.

Morrison said the chamber assists businesses and acts as the “economic development arm” of the city.

“Would it be more of a benefit to the business owners in town if we took the $15,000 and reduceed their business licenses for a year?” Hamilton asked.

Johnson said the arrangement is no different than the city trying to find a home for the Historical Society.

“That’s part of our community that can help us create economic development,” Johnson said.

Hamilton asked if the money needed to be spent now.

Morrison said the work the chamber does in recruiting new businesses and helping existing business prosper offsets the $15,000 contract.

Carter and Councilman Dan Decker were in favor giving the money to the chamber.

“It takes money to make money,” Carter said.

On a final note, Johnson said the city has made a request to meet with new Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murry and U.S. Congressman Dave Reichert.

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