Builders challenging use of fees for climate plan

There’s the possibility for some lively discussion at tomorrow’s Development Oversight Commission meeting over the city’s July decision to use development impact fees set aside for air-quality measures to help fund a climate action plan. The local builders lobby argues the city can’t do that.

John Beckman, chief executive officer of the Building Industry Association of the Delta, raised concerns about a different proposed expenditure of such air quality fee revenue back in February and asked that the city limit using that fee for certain projects until it and other fees are reevaluated.

When, in July, the city recommended using the air quality fees to help fund work on the climate action plan (barring any other sources of revenue), Beckman protested. He said using the funds that way might not be legal.

Yes it is, the city replied, in part because this fee is slightly different than other fees that pay for physical infrastructure.

That doesn’t make sense, Beckman replied.

Yes it does, the city wrote.

The back-and-forth is useful for the BIA if it decides to challenge this issue further because it’s got the city’s position in writing now. And by choosing to discuss it at tomorrow’s DOC meeting (where Beckman is the chairman), city officials will additionally be on the record about the issue.

It’s unclear how far this issue will go beyond tomorrow. The city is hoping to use outside grant money to cover some of the climate planning costs instead of the air quality fees. Mike Niblock, the city’s community development director, said the city has been approved for an estimated $200,000 in federal grant money, but it’s unclear when and how the money will be received. The city also is in the running for state grant money but hasn’t received final word yet, he said.

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