In Clark County, every day might be a holiday
Clark County commissioners are considering extending a fee holiday that’s set to expire Dec. 31.
Commissioners Marc Boldt, Tom Mielke and Steve Stuart also want staff to estimate how much it would cost to, at a minimum, allow developers to pay traffic impact fees (which are currently not part of the holiday) in installments.
For those who hear “fee holiday” and think there are no potential drawbacks, please understand that the holiday is for businesses. Taxpayers pick up the tab.
Some county departments, such as the Department of Community Development, depend on fees to operate. When businesses don’t pay the fees, the money comes from the county’s general fund.
Yes, the same general fund that commissioners had to dip into to cover operating expenses for the Clark County Events Center. Yes, the same general fund that commissioners rely on to pay for public safety and other basic services. Yes, the same general fund that commissioners are worried will take a big hit after the state announces budget cuts.
Commissioners adopted the fee holiday policy last year to spur private-sector economic development.
So what has the fee holiday yielded? According to figures presented to commissioners in a recent work session, $360,000 in fees had been waived through October 2011.
Most of the work that was done was tenant improvements.
Of the 57 business applicants, 47 responded to a survey about the fee holiday. Two-thirds said the fee waiver made no difference in the location or timing of their project.
The work created 46 new jobs, with the possibility of adding another 34 to 90 jobs.
Eighteen of the applicants did not even know about the fee holiday until they applied for the permits.
Construction taxes, property taxes and sales tax revenues estimated for 2011-15 are expected to yield a total of $150,000.
Marty Snell, the director of Community Development, said that estimate on new revenue is low. The total estimate of new revenue is in the $450,000 range, but he discounted that number based on the respondents who said they would have done their project regardless of the fee waiver.
What do you think? Are the fee holidays worth it?
And for people who will say the county just needs to get out of the way of developers and throw out all their stupid, burdensome rules, one thing: The county has been rewriting its development code to make things as simple as possible in light of state requirements. Seriously. Every line of code. Staff started the “Retooling our Code” project in April 2010.