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Atherton OKs $1.6 million refund of road-impact fees

Original post made on Feb 24, 2010

It seemed like a good idea at the time: charge builders a road-impact fee and use it to repair Atherton roads torn up by heavy construction vehicles. Now, town officials are preparing to refund $1.65 million in road fees collected since July 1, 2006.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 24, 2010, 12:00 AM

Comments (2)

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Posted by Charles Marsala
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 24, 2010 at 7:28 am

Dear Editor,

I disagree with the opening of the story, “It seems like a good idea at the time..”

Many of us thought it was a bad idea at the time. In the Summer of 2006 many residents took issue with an illegal Off-Haul Fee the council adopted in 2005, citing that since trucks already pay the state taxes and the state allocates funds back to cities, Off-Haul Fees and Road Impact Fees are double taxation.

In September 2006, the council rescinded the Off-Haul Fee and refunded back to the start of the fee in May 2005.

In June 2007, the council majority adopted, (Jim Janz and I opposed), a plan to increase Road Impact Fees 40% without any study to support the increase.

Only a small amount of cities (less than 30) charge Road Impact Fees in the state and Atherton charges at least 40% more than any other city. Only a few charge Off-Haul Fees and Atherton was charging four times what any other city was charging. Hence the likely hood for a lawsuit to challenge was in Atherton.

During the Summer of 2008 residents and schools came before the council complaining about the illegal Business License Tax increase of 2003 and the illegal Road Impact Fee increase of 2007. Interim City Manager Wende Protzman had advised the council in Fall of 2007 that the Business License Tax increase was illegal.

In December 2008, the council rescinded the Business License Tax increase and was advised it legally had to go back one year. Council opted to go back to December 2006, approximately one year from the date it was advised by Protzman.

My understanding is the 90 day legal obligation is only on part of the road-impact fee problem and does not apply to the 40% increase nor the fees charged in 2006 before the Town placed a clause at the bottom of the permit form stating applicants had 90 days to protest fees.

As an example Menlo School paid almost $300,000.00 in both Business License Tax and Road Impact Fees to build a new gym in 2008. The school will be eligible for a refund in both these categories. Although the school had expressed its concern on the high fees to the town in emails, technically it had not filled out the correct paperwork to be eligible under the 90 window to protest.

With more than 500 permits processed a year, the majority number of refunds are to residents who did improvements to their existing properties.

Charles Marsala
Council Member

Like this comment
Posted by got to wonder
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:08 am

How much of the "off haul, road impact, or biz lics. fees" charged and then returned, have been offered back to you Mr. Marsala?

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