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Published on Friday, February 8, 2013

Utility latecomer fees added to upfront SEPA proposal

The business community has asked us to consider some additional changes to HB 1104 which will allow cities to use latecomer fees to recover the cost of upfront environmental review for a planned action or infill areas within a city. The business community has asked us to consider some additional changes to utility latecomer fee authority.

Sometimes subdivision developers put in water and sewer infrastructure that will also benefit other developers who develop/build later. Utility latecomer fees allow the city to collect money from those latecomers to reimburse the original developer.

Current law allows cities to choose whether or not to offer latecomer fees for utility infrastructure, and to determine how long the fees will be collected (the maximum is twenty years). The business community would like to see greater certainty in their ability to recover costs through latecomer fees.

Rep. Fitzgibbon (D–Burien) has introduced a new bill (HB 1717) that contains our original SEPA latecomer fee authority and the following changes for sewer and water latecomer statutes:

  • Makes it a requirement, not an option, for cities to administer these latecomer agreements.
  • Provides clear authority to recover reasonable and proportionate fees to create and administer these agreements.
  • Provides that the agreements must run for twenty years in length.
  • Provides that the developers must submit complete cost and associated data within 90 days of project completion.

We have concerns that these changes may go too far, but are interested in working to provide some additional certainty and enhancement to this tool for folks who are investing in expensive infrastructure in our communities. Please let us know if you have concerns, and most importantly, if you have ideas on how to make this more workable for your city. Please provide any thoughts to Carl Schroeder.