Proposed transportation impact fees to be discussed Aug. 5

Transportation Impact Fees

Scott Gross, a city of Austin Transportation Department engineer, speaks May 12 during an Urban Transportation Commission meeting. Gross will also speak Aug. 5 to the City Council Mobility Committee. (via Courtesy ATXN.TV)

UPDATED 3:45 p.m. 8/5/15

New development could make a more significant contribution to transportation infrastructure improvements under a proposed new city fee.

Austin City Council’s Mobility Committee will be briefed Aug. 5 about the potential implementation of transportation impact fees, or standardized contributions developers must pay to help build the city’s transportation network. City staff have proposed adding $2 million to the 2015-16 fiscal year budget to help enact transportation impact fees, but nothing is finalized until council members approve the allocation.

“The reason we’re pursuing this, primarily it’s getting development to pay for itself in large part,” said Scott Gross, an engineer in the city’s Transportation Department, during a May 12 Urban Transportation Commission meeting.

There are not enough incoming property taxes to fund needed transportation infrastructure improvements, Gross said at the time. He has also visited the Real Estate Council of Austin City of Austin Policy Committee, the Impact Fee Advisory Committee and Austin Neighborhoods Council in recent months to pitch the proposal and better explain existing procedures.

In a followup interview, Gross said developers are currently required to pay for new or expanded streets immediately surrounding a project to help accommodate anticipated increased traffic. A traffic impact analysis is also conducted on bigger projects to determine the estimated effect a new development will have on surrounding streets, he said.

However, fees collected have typically only covered a portion of roadway improvements directly around the development, while transportation impact fees, if implemented, would be used to pay for improvements in geographic service areas approximately 6 miles in diameter, Gross said.

A similar transportation impact fee was approved at Fort Worth in 2008 and fully implemented by 2010. Since that time, Fort Worth city officials have collected more than $50 million in transportation project money from new developments, Gross said.

The city of Austin already has a water and wastewater impact fee, which was implemented more than 20 years ago, according to Gross.

No council action is anticipated during the Aug. 5 meeting; however, City Council is in the process of reviewing next fiscal year’s budget, which will be finalized by September.

(Updated to include clarifications from Scott Gross)

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Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.
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