Split council approves fee hikes for development

While city leaders were split on raising development fees for new commercial businesses, the first tier of increased rates will go into effect next month.

Grand Junction City Councilors Jim Doody, Bennett Boeschenstein, Laura Luke and Bill Pitts, voted in favor of raising the rates for Transportation Capacity Payments, or TCPs. Councilors Teresa Coons, Sam Susuras and Tom Kenyon favored a plan to further investigate the issue, but their votes were outnumbered.

Base rates for commercial development will increase by $322 each year for three years. Also, the area defined as Grand Junction’s greater downtown and North Avenue will serve as an incentivize zone where rates will not be increased. Businesses locating in existing buildings will receive breaks on fees, as well as new construction in the city’s core over one story high. In that case, TCP fees will be charged on the first level, but not on additional levels.

Councilor Sam Susuras said he would have liked to see a task force of representatives outside of City Council weigh in on the issue.

Susuras, as well as some members of the business community, criticized a 2002 study city staff used in determining how much the rate of TCPs should be increased.

Putting off the decision until a later date would allow city staff to have the study updated and might allow for some compromise, he said.

General contractor Greg Motz, of Sun King, urged Councilors to consider the effects of raising rates for developers.

“Businesses are scared,” he said. “Already there are too many unknowns. I think there are other ways of raising the money instead of raising commercial fees.”

According to the city, Grand Junction currently collects about 25 percent of the cost of transportation infrastructure from its TCP scale. Bringing the fees up would have those costs at 37 percent of the needed funds after the third year increase.

As an example, the city estimated a $45 million gap in infrastructure needs at the current rate for commercial businesses along the 24 corridor. The city estimated a gap of almost $38 million under the increased rate schedule voted into effect Wednesday night.

In other business, councilors:

■ Approved a resolution to support the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. Local governments lately have been issuing similar resolutions in light of several widely publicized mass shootings and ensuing proposals for gun control legislation. “Many people have asked the City Council to get involved, but candidly there is little that the council can do. One thing that the City Council can do, and by this resolution, does do, is to publicly support and affirm the protections of the Second Amendment to the United States…,” the agenda itemsstates.

■ Approved a contract with Strive, formerly known as Mesa Developmental Services, to allow the nonprofit organization to take over management and operations at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. According to the agreement, the city would share costs with Strive for maintenance and capital improvement projects. Funds for upkeep at the Gardens would come from the Parks and Recreation Department budget. Any capital improvements would come through the city’s budget process.

■ Approved $1.9 million road construction project with Oldcastle SW Group for repaving 15 locations around the city. After the improvements, the city’s remaining balance for asphalt repaving is $1.3 million in the 2013 budget.

■ Approved the purchase of four sport utility vehicles for the Grand Junction Police Department. The vehicles cost $146,248 and will be supplied by Elway Chevrolet of Colorado Springs. The vehicles replace three police patrol sedans.

■ Approved the purchase of a 1-ton flatbed pickup from MacDonald Equipment Co. of Commerce City for $91,491.

The vehicle replaces another 1-ton pickup and a Ford Explorer. The new vehicle will be used by the city’s Transportation Engineering Department.


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