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Pro: Developers should foot the bill for new roads

By Bianca Montes
Sept. 15, 2013 at 4:15 a.m.


$2.66 million firehouse

When it comes to an emergency, mere minutes could mean the difference between life, death and a house burning to the ground.

Currently, the Victoria Fire Department estimates an eight-minute response time to homes near Ball Airport Road, Fire Chief Taner Drake said. The biggest challenge, he said, is navigating Navarro Street during daylight hours because of traffic.

Drake said there are only three main arteries into the area - Mallette, Glasgow and Navarro streets. Building the thoroughfare and the firehouse on Ball Airport Road will greatly improve the firefighters' ability to provide services to that area, Drake said.

"I think it's going to be a great asset for the community," he said. "It provides us the ability to cover that area of the city to the same capacity that we help the rest of the city."

Construction of the fire station is being paid from general fund savings, said city Finance Director Gilbert Reyna. The city's personnel costs came in under $1.1 million, and other construction expenses that came under all added up to the about $3 million needed to build the station. A new tax rate will cover the operating and maintenance, he said.

Two rows of grass are sprouting out of the aging street where Victoria resident Mark Loffgren lives.

Although he's not against growth, Loffgren said, he thinks the city should spend taxpayers' money fixing what's already broken and let developers worry about building new roads.

Loffgren, 64, spoke out at a Sept. 3 City Council meeting to suggest charging developers an impact fee to subsidize the cost of expanding public infrastructure, facilities and services to serve subdivisions.

Loffgren, a 28-year Victoria resident, lives on Wilshire Drive and said all of the roads in his subdivision need repairs due to sinking.

According to the 2012 street inventory, Wilshire Drive between 200 Bedivere Drive and 200 Hawthorne St. has a rating of 83. However, other streets in the Castle Hills West subdivision are rated in the mid-70s. The rating goes up to 100.

"The perception is all the City Council cares about is growth and business, not the homeowners," Loffgren told the Advocate at the Sept. 3 meeting.

A $9 million certificate obligation bond approved by the City Council on Sept. 10 will repair some residential streets, pay for a downtown overlay and build a $2.9 million extension of Ball Airport Road, where subdivisions are under construction.

The bond will be paid using property tax revenue. An additional $2.66 million of city money saved over time will be used to construct a fire station on Ball Airport Road.

"It's a balancing act each year because we need to put money into maintaining the current streets," said City Manager Charmelle Garrett. "But we're a growing city, and we need to put money into growth."

Impact fees, Loffgren said, would make that balancing act easier to harmonize.

Sixty percent of U.S. cities with more than 25,000 residents impose impact fees, according to a national survey by the United States Government Accountability Office.

A 2005 analysis found that the average total of impact fees imposed upon a 2000-square-foot, single-family house was $7,669.

"Impact fees won't pay for all the roads, but they'll pay a little bit," Loffgren said. "Growth should pay its fair share."

Con: Impact fees will push developers outside city

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