Friday, January 22, 1999

Monroe to charge developers

Tap-in fees, inspection costs firsts for city

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONROE — The free ride developers have enjoyed for years in this growing city between Cincinnati and Dayton is coming to an end.

        Starting next month, fees will be charged for review, inspection and processing site plans for new subdivision and street-improvement plats. Those, coupled with water tap-in fees in new developments that began in late November, will help pay for the water system upgrades needed to serve the developments.

        Those revenues will help offset the city's costs but will add several thousand dollars to the price of new developments, Assistant City Manager Jay Stewart said.

        “It's unheard of that we didn't have them all these years,” Mr. Stewart said. “The city has always absorbed all these costs.”

        In a survey of neighboring communities, Mr. Stewart said, he found all charge similar fees, and Monroe set its fees about in the middle of those in other communities.

        “We're not trying to be the most expensive. Some places have double the fees we'll charge,” he said.

        The fees should not surprise anyone, and they won't likely slow growth because the increases will be passed on to users, developers say.

        “It was expected. Other communities have been charging water tap-in and inspection fees forever,” said Joe Schwartz, president of JII Homes Inc. in Fairfield, which is building the Applegate housing development on Ohio 4 and expects to start Colonial Manor on Ohio 63 in March.

        “It was nice while it lasted,” Mr. Schwartz said. “This will not keep me from building in Monroe.”

        And ultimately, home buyers will bear the burden, because “all cost increases, I don't care what item it is, are born by the consumer. That's simply elementary economics,” Mr. Schwartz said.

        Council approved the water tap-in fees late last year for new developments, Mr. Stewart said. The fees will tack on as much as $1,200 for a single-family home. And developers of industrial developments, depending on size, would pay $1,800 to nearly $80,000.

        Those fees were prompted by the continuing residential, industrial and commercial growth that will require the city have more water storage tanks, waterlines and likely a new water treatment plant in the future. Officials estimate those things will cost about $14 million in coming years, and city council members think some of those costs should be picked up by the companies and families moving into the community.

        The fees will not cover all the city's costs, but they will put some of the financial responsibility on those causing the future upgrades to be necessary, Mr. Stewart said.

        The site fees should add about $50,000 to city coffers this year.

        Water tap-in fees are expected to bring in at least $100,000 annually, which will be earmarked for large water improvement projects required by the new users, Mr. Stewart said.


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