Churches want fees waived

KINGMAN - The Kingman Ministerial Alliance has thrown its hat into the debate over development investment fees. The alliance of local churches is calling for a meeting with Kingman City Council and Mayor Les Byram at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 at Manzanita Baptist Church on Golden Gate Avenue. No mention of the letter was made at Monday night's Council meeting.

According to the letter, members of 17 local churches met on Nov. 2 to discuss the issue and decided to ask the Council and mayor to meet with them and other non-profit groups.

In September, Howard Pennington, the senior pastor of Praise Chapel Christian Fellowship, appealed to the Council and the mayor to waive development investment fees on local churches and other non-profit organizations.

Praise Chapel is planning on adding another 55,000 square feet to its current facility. During the Council meeting, Pennington said the city building department told him that it would cost the church between $250,000 and $350,000 in development investment fees to add onto the church. Those fees are in addition to the cost of a building permit.

Pennington argued that since the church is a non-profit organization it shouldn't have to pay the fee. Non-profit organizations such as churches are often exempt from certain fees and taxes.

However, a check of Arizona Revised Statutes by the city attorney showed that only school districts are exempt from development investment fees.

The fees are designed to help pay for necessary capital improvement projects for the city. The Council first started discussing the option of development fees in November of 2005. A public hearing on the issue was held in February. City Ordinance 1529 establishing the development fees was adopted March 6 and became effective July 1.

The fees are based on a revenue and fee report prepared for the city last year. According to the ordinance, the fees are designed to be a one-time only fee that is charged to developers when they apply for a building permit. The fees are placed into a special fund that can only be used for the purchase or construction of public facilities or the payment of bonds related to capital improvements to the city.