Gov. Phil Batt doesn’t like impact fees or local-option taxes, but he said Wednesday he might support them if the Legislature makes a good case.
“I’d like to see the impetus for that demonstrated in the Legislature,” Batt told the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho annual conference. “I never see it. I’m willing to talk about it.”
He also agreed reluctantly, under questioning from local officials, that perhaps the authority to charge impact fees should be expanded beyond Ada County.
“I guess I don’t see why Ada County should have opportunity for an impact fee that other parts of the state don’t have,” Batt said. But, he added, “I’m a pretty reluctant dragon.”
North Idaho cities and counties long have pushed for impact fees as a way to cope with the costs of growth. But their repeated attempts to win that option from the Legislature have been turned back.
Impact fees are fees charged on new construction, to help pay for specific services that local governments must provide to new homes and businesses. Ada County has impact fees for roads and parks.
Batt said Ada County’s legislation allows the fees only under strict conditions. “I have no objection to the Legislature making that statewide,” he said.
“I am willing to discuss nearly anything. If there is a sizable group of legislators who have any sort of proposal, I’ll listen. I’m not saying I’m signing on.”
Kootenai County Commissioner Dick Compton, who chatted with Batt after the conference, said, “It’s always encouraging when you hear the governor has an open mind on that.”
Local governments and their voters should be able to make their own decisions, Compton said. “We’re just asking for the same kind of consideration from the governor and Legislature as they look for from the federal government.”
Sen. Jerry Thorne, R-Nampa, chairman of the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee, wasn’t convinced.
He said he thought perhaps Ada County should lose its impact fee authority if it’s a question of having a privilege other areas don’t get.
But Thorne also indicated he might support giving other areas the impact fee option “for some very narrow purposes.”
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