TIM fees: Up close and personal

By From page A1 | March 04, 2013

A brief glance at the Web pages that deal with the county’s Traffic Impact Mitigation fees may help explain why some members of the Board of Supervisors want to keep the issue on the cutting table. The most telling section gives comparison rates for each of eight TIM fee zones. The primary distinction between zones is their degree of “urbanization.” In the more rural areas, mitigating traffic impacts tends to be considerably less costly than in the more developed regions of the county.

Beginning roughly at Echo Summit, Zone 1 covers a significant portion of the most rural areas of the county, including Quintette in the north to Coyoteville in the extreme southwest. Kyburz, Strawberry, Grizzly Flat and Omo Ranch are also part of Zone 1.

The TIM fee for construction of a single-family residential home in Zone 1 is $14,640, payable prior to issuance of a building permit. The fee for the same house in Zones 4 and 5 is somewhat less at $13,330 and $13,470 respectively. Georgetown, Garden Valley, Rescue, Coloma-Lotus, Cool and Pilot Hill and much of the northwest county are part of Zone 4, while Pollock Pines, Camino, Smith Flat and Mosquito are included in Zone 5.

The incorporated cities of Placerville and South Lake Tahoe are not subject to the county’s TIM fee program.

In Fair Play, Outingdale, Mt. Aukum and Latrobe, in Zone 7, the fees are roughly comparable to Zone 1 at $14,740. Again those regions of the south and southwest county are relatively rural with few major traffic arteries and somewhat restricted access to Highway 50.

Pleasant Valley, Happy Valley, Newtown, Gold Oak and surrounding areas comprise Zone 6 where the TIM fee for the same single-family residence will cost prospective builders $23,420 up-front. Snows Road and more significantly, Pleasant Valley Road along with the extension between Somerset and Pleasant Valley are the main roads in Zone 6.

Putting up the same house in Zone 3, that is, in and around Diamond Springs, El Dorado and the north side of Missouri Flat and south on State Route 49 almost to Sandridge Road, jumps the TIM fee up to $35,740. The same fee is charged for a new single-family residence in Zone 2 which encompasses the region of Shingle Springs, Cameron Park, north to Salmon Falls and south to near Latrobe.

Zone 8 is a special entity covering all of El Dorado Hills, the Bass Lake area and extending northwest to border almost the entire southeast shore of Folsom Lake. The TIM fee for the home in an El Dorado Hills neighborhood or area will run $28,140.

Claudia Wade, senior engineer with the county’s department of transportation, on Thursday, forwarded the following information regarding Zone 8 and why it is different from the other TIM zones.

“The methodology in calculating the fees for each zone are exactly the same,” Wade wrote. “The reason why Zone 8 is separate is because during the time of the development of the 2004 General Plan TIM Fee Program, Zone 8 was held separate primarily due to pre-existing agreements and due to development of this area under a previously created fee program referred to as the El Dorado Hills/Salmon Falls Area Road Improvement Fee (RIF) Program.”

 The original driving force behind TIM fees was the belief that rapid and significant development of residential properties would create a major impact on county roads far into the future. The program was intended to ensure that the county’s road construction and maintenance efforts would be adequately funded to keep pace with the service needs of the increased population. It was first designed in 1996, amended and approved by voters as Measure Y in 1998 and further re-authorized by popular vote in 2008. The latter vote extended TIM fees for another 10 years.

As the financial foundation for many road and bridge projects in the county’s Capital Improvement Program, the TIM is inseparably entwined in the county’s General Plan and relates to many issues including land use, housing density, environmental and air quality, as well as economic development. The economic decline of the past five years, however, has called into question the original rationale for many of the projects still contained in the CIP. As a result, El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has reconsidered the prospects for realistic population growth and development.

One year ago last month, the board voted unanimously to reduce TIM fee rates in all eight traffic zones. By law, the new rates took effect 60 days after the board’s action. At the time, the Mountain Democrat published the following new rates as presented by interim DOT Director Kim Kerr, who doubles as the assistant chief administrative officer.

Kerr explained last February that the board’s action would reduce the TIM fee by 14.1 percent in traffic zones 1 through 7; 13.3 percent in zone 8 (El Dorado Hills Community Region) and 18.1 percent along the Highway 50 Corridor development area.

Chief Budget Officer Laura Schwartz explained after that presentation that “These fees apply to all applicants based on the property location and zone.”

In a DOT-CIP updated presentation last September, Wade gave a slide presentation to the board pointing out that one way to reduce fees would be to delay or remove road/bridge projects from consideration that have been on DOT’s books for some time.

She also explained, however, that any such action would or could involve a host of other issues and considerations. Economic development, land-use entitlements, political pressure, Oak Woodlands Management as well as local and state regulations and guidelines may have to be taken into account, Wade said.

In short, as part of the county’s larger issue of the General Plan, the TIM fee program and the CIP program are typically updated every year, while the General Plan is only reviewed and updated every five years. In addition, TIM and CIP projects are driven by a Travel Demand Model, which also is subject to regular updates, according to the General Plan.

Fast forward to last week. In response to a request for information on the highest fees, Wade confirmed that, “Yes, that is correct. The Traffic Impact Mitigation (TIM) Fee for Zones 2 and 3 for a single-family unit is $35,740 to be paid at time of issuance of building permit.”

“Upon collection of TIM Fee funds, the county places the fees collected in three different funds,” she explained vie e-mail. The three funds include: Highway 50 improvements; local roads in El Dorado Hills (zone 8);  and for all other local roads (zones 1-7).

For the example of an individual owner-builder of a single-family home:

In Zones 2 and 3, the Highway 50 component charge is $9,970 and the local component charge is  $25,770.
“At this time when money is collected for the local funds (zones 1-7), as shown in the example, the money could be used towards any of the TIM Fee roads within zones 1-7.  The TIM Fee roads are described in Exhibit B of the TIM Fee Resolution on the county’s DOT Website. Highway 50 money is used towards improvements along Highway 50, inclusive of interchanges, etc.,” she wrote.
Whether or not TIM fees will continue to be seen by many as a drag on new home construction in the county remains to be seen. Supervisors are likely to discuss the issue again next month when the DOT returns with another update on the Capital Improvement Program.

Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or [email protected] Follow @CDaleyMtDemo. 

Chris Daley

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