City undecided on impact fee direction

KINGMAN - What Kingman plans to do about recent state legislation that overhauls what and how impact fees are collected is still up in the air after officials realized that a construction tax cannot be implemented till Aug. 1, 2014.

The city's financial director, Coral Loyd, explained to Council that two changes would bring Kingman into compliance with Senate Bill 1525. First, the city can eliminate the general government fee once the $41,973 debt is paid for the old bank building. Next, it can eliminate the impact fee collected for parks, Loyd said. These two changes would bring the city into compliance by the Jan. 1 deadline.

However, this arrangement still leaves the city responsible for conducting a development fee study by Aug. 1, 2014.

Councilwoman Carole Young asked if the city could avoid the study by decreasing its impact fees, and Loyd said yes but that the fees would need to be changed uniformly.

Contractors currently pay $2,852 in impact fees for a single-family residence. The general government fee makes up $729 of that bill while the parks fee makes up $710. If Council chooses this direction, contractors would save $1,439 on their single-family residential development fee bills once the bank building is paid off.

Savings for commercial development are nowhere near as lucrative because the parks fee isn't collected, while the general government fee's highest amount is $1.11 per square foot for offices.

"It's quite a savings in the residential category," Loyd said. "Not so much for commercial."

As Council looked at Loyd's presentation, Councilman Richard Anderson suggested having a workshop dedicated to funding and revenue source strategy.

"We need a long term strategy," Anderson said.

Young agreed and said the workshop needs to cover not only impact fees but all revenue issues facing Kingman right now. The city is short in several areas every year, including streets, public safety and now impact fees, Young said. It's time to come up with a plan no matter how long it takes, she added.

Council tentatively agreed to conduct this workshop at 8 a.m. Friday.

In other business, Economic Development and Marketing Commission Chair John Kirby presented incentive ideas for bringing businesses to Kingman.

Two of the ideas consisted of improving downtown by taking control of downtown and instituting a primary property tax in order to annex more of the surrounding land.

Downtown revitalization is always a hot topic, Kirby said. Despite all the talk, forward movement is slow, he added.

The city needs to capitalize on the tourists that go downtown, he said.

Kirby suggested Kingman take control of its downtown by instituting ordinances that make downtown a worthwhile area. He pointed to absentee property owners, vacant buildings and shops that are closed on weekends as some of the culprits standing in the way of an improved downtown.

Vice Mayor Robin Gordon said it's hard to get people to agree, adding that many of them are just waiting for something to get done instead of doing something on their own.

"Don't wait for a consensus," Kirby said, suggesting the city create a plan and execute it.

Kirby also offered EDMC up as a spearhead for the plan, saying the commission can gather the stakeholders together, so that people interested in improving downtown can have their say.

As for the property tax idea, Kirby explained that no one on EDMC personally favors a property tax, but added that they all see that it makes sense. Many agree that it's a necessity. Yes, it's unpopular, but perhaps it's needed, Kirby said. With a primary property tax, Kingman can annex areas such as Butler. Annexation increases population, which boosts the allure of Kingman in the eyes of businesses. As is, Kingman can't annex certain areas because it can't afford to provide services to those areas, Kirby said.

Still, Residents Against Irresponsible Development's Harley Pettit can't see how a property tax is an incentive for businesses. He said the lack of a property tax is an incentive for businesses, saving them thousands of dollars a year.

"With a primary property tax, businesses would have to pass the cost to the consumer resulting in higher prices," Pettit said.

Lastly, Council looked at a request from David Cooley to rezone certain adjacent properties located at 2916 Stockton Hill Road and 1912 Miami Ave. from C-1 (commercial/neighborhood convenience) to C-2 (commercial/community business).

The request focuses on allowing gun sales and firearm training courses. By rezoning the properties, gun sales and firearm training courses would be permitted by right. However, under the current zoning, firearm training is permitted by conditional use permit while gun sales are not permitted whatsoever.

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of the request to Council. Its denial was based on the fact that there is no immediate need for additional C-2 zoning in this area as there is already 25 acres of C-2 and C-3 zoned property compared to 13 acres of commercially developed C-1 property. Also, the subject properties have limited on-site parking more suitable for C-1 zoning. Lastly, rezoning these areas would open the door for C-2 allowable uses, such as pawnshops, restaurants and bars, which could have an impact on the residential neighborhoods east of the properties.

At the intersection of Miami and Stockton Hill, each of the corners - other than the one Cooley's business is located on - are either C-2 or C-3 and adjacent to C-1 neighborhoods.

"It's a peculiar area," Cooley said. "But this is not a peculiar change for the area."

Steve Smith, one of the neighboring property owners said he is not against Cooley's idea for a business, but he is against the idea of rezoning the area to C-1 because of the possibility of less-than-respectable businesses moving in there in the future.

Once the quality of the neighborhood drops, the property values drop and so on, Smith said.

Many of the members of the Council said they were pro-business but that they couldn't get behind this rezone because of the property owners in the area voicing their dissent. Several of them said they would rather see this request as a conditional use permit, despite the fact that Cooley cannot sell guns without a rezone.

Council voted 5-1 to deny Cooley's request. Young voted against the motion of denial because the area already has C-2 and C-3 zoned properties. The integrity of the zoning wouldn't really change, Young said, adding that she thought it would've worked out.