Fee reduction package expected to pass Bonney Lake council vote tomorrow

Tomorrow, the Bonney Lake City Council is expected to pass a new package of fee and rate reductions designed to spur development in the city.

The two ordinances would 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.

“I think it’s the right thing to do at this time,” Mayor Neil Johnson said during a discussion on the issues at Tuesday’s council workshop.

Both reductions are designed to sunset, but can be extended.

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 program will last one year or when the fund runs dry, whichever comes first.

The program is an expansion of one the council has tried in the past, but no businesses used it.

The council will also vote on an across-the-board 30 percent cut to sewer and water system development charges.

According to the agenda bill, the charges were based on needs during pre-recession levels of growth, but the decline in development has led to a corresponding slowdown in the need for new infrastructure, allowing the council to lower the costs.

If approved, the water development charge on commercial buildings would 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 are among the highest in the county and several councilmembers have urged a drop in rates as a way to reinvigorate building in the city.

Several developers, as well as the Master Builder’s Association of Pierce County have also asked for and spoken in favor of the reductions.

During discussion Oct. 16, Councilman Randy McKibbin said he and Community Development Director John Vodopich had met with a developer recently who indicated the two programs would be used “faster than you think.”

McKibbin and Vodopich have been meeting with representatives for Red Robin, believed to be interested in the pad next to Applebee’s on state Route 410, though no official word was given as to what business he was talking about.

“We should see something come out of this,” agreed Johnson.

The ordinances met with little opposition during the workshop and were expected to pass.