Using the example of building a house in Rescue, the total amount of impact fees to be paid before even grading the site totals more than $52,000. That is 255 percent higher than it was 10 years ago.
No one can claim that average salaries have gone up that much in 10 years, not even at the county government center. The inflation rate for the decade of 2002-2012 is 28.1 percent. Median income in California, according to the Census Bureau, rose 12.5 percent from $47,437 in 2002 to $53,367 in 2011. El Dorado County’s population increased 14 percent from 158,288 in 2000 to 181,154 in 2010.
Sorting out some of the individual fees is even more shocking than the 255 percent overall gain. Just the basic building fee — plan checking and inspection — rose 196 percent. The fire district fee in the hypothetical Rescue home went up 130 percent. Septic tank plan checking and inspection went up 187 percent.
The real killer is road impact fees, which rose 435 percent, increasing $29,061 to a total of $35,740. The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors is working on bringing that down 25 percent. That’s a start. There’s no reason they also can’t rein in the basic building fee, too.
What we’re not hearing is fire departments or school districts talking about reducing their impact fees. The high school district board did leave its fee unchanged this year. But between 2002 and 2012 high school impact fees rose 72 percent. Elementary school fees went up 79.7 percent. Together they total $7,424. Even Silver Fork School District in the American River Canyon has an impact fee. Where’s the building boom in Silver Fork? The voters approved bond measures for the high school district and some elementary school districts. When they built Union Mine High School the voters approved bond money for that and now that school’s population is shrinking. Two elementary schools in this county are completely unoccupied.
Before the county collects any more fees for fire districts they should be asked to come to the Board of Supervisors and justify their fee and weigh that against how much parcel tax each district’s voters approved.
El Dorado Irrigation District raised rates in part to cover the cost of maintaining and updating its water and sewer systems and pipes. The drastic drop in building activity has shrunk its hookup fee revenue. At $17,000 plus the actual cost of the meter, EID ought to look at dialing back its impact fee.