The Marana Town Council will hold a public hearing and vote on whether to hike development impact fees on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
The push for higher fees comes following the council’s approval of an updated 10-year plan for new water and sewer facilities, streets and parks based on estimated future growth last month.
“Growth pays for the infrastructure moving forward,” said John Kmiec, Marana’s water director. “The current customer shouldn’t have to pay for expanding the system. They’ve already made their payments to the system as needed.”
The plans include funding, through impact fees and other sources, for almost 26 miles of new or expanded roads at a cost of just under $138.3 million. And the impact fees will help pay for new sports fields, parks and trails with a price tag of $16.9 million.
The parks impact fee is the only one not changing, at $2,461 per single-family household.
Street facility fees differ in northwest, northeast or southern Marana, based on proximity. The recommended fees for single-family homes are $3,719 in the northwest, an area not currently charged any impact fee; $4,291 in the northeast, a $1,308 decrease; and $4,327 in the south, an $862 increase.
Water and sewer fees pay for new water and wastewater facilities, as well as securing continued water resources and paying back the debt on projects built to service the areas of new growth. The new plan includes infrastructure for water storage and distribution at $12.1 million, water acquisition at roughly $14.6 million and new sewer facilities at $13.3 million.
One of the “biggest ticket items” the town will fund with upcoming impact fees is expansion of the wastewater facility. The entire plant is being replaced with upgraded technology. The town is paying $3.2 million for the upgrade, and the impact fees will pay for the expansion from 500,000 gallons to 1.5 million.
The water-acquisition recommended impact fee is $3,050, a $1,279 increase. The wastewater fee of $3,930, a $311 decrease, only applies to north Marana because much of Marana’s wastewater is run by Pima County.
The recommended impact fees for new water systems only apply to three areas of predicted growth: North Marana, with a $209 increase up to $2,331; Twin Peaks, with a $283 increase to $2,740; and Saguaro Bloom, with a $351 decrease to $838.
The current fees were adopted in August 2014. Since then, Marana experienced more growth than expected, and so the fees had to be updated after only three years.
The Planning Department estimates growth by looking at current and upcoming developments and making an “educated guess” on where the community development will be in 10 years—a guess which always risks being off, according to Kmiec.
“We spend months figuring out what’s realistic,” he said.
And that educated guess equates to almost 7,000 new residential units by 2027, within the existing town limits and areas projected to be annexed within the next decade. Marana is growing faster than the rest of the state, and the town estimates an additional 17,103 Marana residents over the next decade, for a 2027 population of 58,935.
If the town council approves the fees, they will go into effect 75 days later.