A Court Ruling Today could Give Cities More Power to Impose fees on New Development

Phoenix, AZ – The case involves the 2005 decision by the Mesa city council to
impose a fee of $217 for each new home for cultural facilities,
mainly museums. The Home Builders Association of Central Arizona
filed suit, pointing out that state law says these fees can be
imposed only for -- quote -- necessary public services. And that,
they argued, means things like streets and sewer and water
services, things that are impacted by new construction. But in a
unanimous ruling, the state Court of Appeals refused to accept
such a narrow interpretation. The judges said city councils are
entitled to some defererence in what services they decide, on
behalf of their residents, are necessary. The ruling, however,
does not give council members carte blanche to start tacking what
are called impact fees onto new homes for anything. In this case,
the judges pointed out that Mesa has provided museums for years,
long before the separate fees were imposed. They said that
history provides a sufficient basis for the council deciding the
services are necessary. But the ruling suggests that the court
might come to a different legal conclusion if a city council were
to try to impose a fee on new homes for some service not now
provided. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.