City of Milton Impact Fee Ordinance Review

Milton City Council is currently reviewing the draft of their first Impact fee ordinance. City Council held a work session to discuss the adoption of the new impact fee program and corresponding Capital Improvements Element last week. Michael Paris, President, and Chelsea Hagood, Policy Analyst of the Council for Quality Growth were in attendance and provided public comment at the work session. The City of Milton is considering adopting their first Impact Fee ordinance. As written, the draft ordinance imposes the maximum fee allowable by state law, $7,700 per each new residential unit, which would be the highest impact fee in North Fulton, and approaching the highest fees in the Atlanta Metro Region.

A main topic of discussion remains the Parks and Recreation fee on residential developments, which is proposed at $6,400. The City’s consultant calculated this number from the adopted Parks and Recreation Masterplan and Capital Improvements Element calling for over $200 Million investment in Parks and Recreation Improvements.

During the work session last week, City Council members expressed concern over obligating the City to allocate the required funding to match impact fee revenue for the park improvements described in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The City of Milton Community Development Director, Kathleen Field, made a recommendation to the Council to consider reducing the Parks and Recreation Impact Fee to 50 percent of the maximum, or $3,200 per dwelling, for the first year of the program, which will allow the City to revisit the Parks and Recreation Plan and Capital Improvements Element during the Comprehensive Planning Process in 2016. The Council for Quality Growth commends the City for considering this reduction in fees and looks forward to continuing to work with City Council and Staff to adopt a balanced and effective ordinance. The ordinance will be up for adoption at the Milton City Council meeting on Monday, October 5th.

Key Points Include:

  • The Ordinance is based on the Ross + Associates Impact Fee Report, which specifically states that the numbers presented are intended to “establish a ceiling,” where the impact fees calculated are the Maximum Allowable fees by State law, not recommendations for reasonable fees based on development trends in the North Fulton Region.
    • The Council recommends considering a reduced Parks and Recreation Impact Fee that will allow the City to generate funding for park improvements, but does not place a disproportionate cost burden on residential developers and new residents.
  • According to the proposed Capital Improvements Element, Impact Fees are expected to pay for 306 acres of new park land, 45 acres and 38 miles of new trails, and 1,138 acres of conservation easements, as well as numerous public facilities. However, Impact Fee revenue CANNOT be used to fund the maintenance, operations or replacement of deteriorated facilities. How will the upkeep of these new public parks, trails and facilities be managed and funded?
  • Ross + Associates reported a substantial existing Level of Service shortfall for parks, trails and recreational facilities in the City. While only the “new growth demand” is used to calculate the impact fees, existing residents will use and benefit from the parks built with impact fee revenue, without having paid impact fees themselves.
  • The Council for Quality Growth is concerned that the adoption of the fees as written, which is an increase from $0 to almost $8,000 required per new family in Milton where existing residents have never paid such fees, may place a disproportionate cost burden of parks and infrastructure improvements on new residents.
  • At $7,700, Milton would have the highest Impact Fees in North Fulton and approaching the highest fees in the Atlanta Metro Region.