Developers must pay their fair share
| Posted: Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 06:00 am
On Thursday of last week, the city engineering department headed by city engineer Tracy Allen held an information session in the east boardroom of city hall to present the latest proposals for a comprehensive new bylaw to establish off-site levies. The meeting was well attended by landowners, developers, consultants and more than just a few citizens who are concerned about rising property taxes. This proposed bylaw is a very critical step to ensure that the infrastructure costs of new developments are paid for by the new developments and not off-loaded onto existing taxpayers. Attempts have been made in the past to resolve this issue but too often, the development industry and their consultants have intervened and amendments have been made that resulted in the lowering of off-site levies and an accompanying increase in our taxes. Hopefully this time around our council will stand fast and implement this plan that will see developers pay their full share of new infrastructure.
It still seems to me however, that the new bylaw should be prefaced by a strong policy statement that reflects the objective of these new off-site levies and that objective should be to clearly state the objective of allowing orderly development of newly annexed areas without placing any increased burden on the existing taxpayers. I say this because of my concern that the front-end developers will be coming to the city for some waiving of the costs that they might have to bear to oversize infrastructure for future development of contiguous landowners.
The city will be asked to help fund these upfront costs and I have no trouble with that as long as the development carries the interest of the cost and an equitable system is put in place to recover these funds as development proceeds from the initial developer to the next. This is a shared responsibility of adjoining developers and new developments must contain iron clad agreements to ensure that collection is made for infrastructure expenses that might be front-ended by the city so that we can ultimately recover the cost of this new infrastructure plus the costs of the borrowing that will be required.
Most developers are responsible and accept the fact that they need to pay for the infrastructure such as roadways, storm and sewer systems as well as expanded water storage and delivery systems even though developers will often argue that the latter should be shared by the tax base. Developers want an equitable system in place and taxpayers want to ensure that the new bylaw is not only transparent but that it also protects the older folks who have paid taxes for the development and improvements in our areas from increased taxation for new developments that will continue to come. In my view, this new bylaw provides for a very equitable taxation vehicle that will facilitate development while at the same time protect our existing taxpayers.
Bob Russell, St. Albert