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A decision on the long-debated impact fees ordinance for new water and sewer hookups in the Town of Bronson was put off by council members in a 3-2 vote Jan. 22 in what was slated to be the second and final reading of the ordinance.
Vice Mayor Berlon Weeks and Council Member Jason Kennedy voted against tabling the matter. Mayor Franklin Schuler cast the tie-breaking vote.
The discussion began with Weeks, before a packed room, asking Council Member Aaron Edmondson to explain why the proposed rates were a good thing. The lowest proposed fees for the smallest diameter meters, according to the ordinance, will cost $1,280. The lowest sewage connection fees, also for the smallest diameter meters, will cost $3,526.
Edmondson responded by saying that a number of studies had already been done, and that the matter needed to “get settled.”
Edmondson said the initial fee, about $1,750 for water, had been offered at a 50 percent discount if paid in 90 days. And then another 15 percent was taken off the initial figure, as well.
“We cannot provide a service for free,” he said. “That’s the best … that’s just me,” adding that the ordinance had been passed 3-1 upon first reading.
Town Clerk Kelli Brettel said the fees, meant to pay for future expansion, had to be in place, held in trust, because at 50 percent capacity, the town was supposed to begin working toward a new sewer plant. At 75 percent capacity, she said, the plant had to be in place.
Still, Weeks said the money was a lot to ask of Bronson residents right now. People are having a tough time financially, he said, “and now we going to hit them with an impact fee?”
“What do you suggest?” Edmondson asked.
Weeks said it should be done gradually, giving the council time to come up with other ways to offset the costs.
Council member Beatrice Roberts said the fees would be spread out, according to how the terms were written out.
Kennedy said he thinks existing residents need to be cut some slack. “To me, an impact fee, is impact from new business,” he said.
Weeks, also, said impact fees are for new businesses, not older, established ones.
“Amen,” said several audience members.