Unless League City City Council votes differently on June 13, most of the fees to add water and wastewater lines to new developments will increase 93% beginning Sept. 1.

What happened: On May 23, council approved the first reading of an ordinance to increase water and wastewater impact fees. The vote was 7-1 with Council Member Tommy Cones opposed.

Impact fees, also known as capital recovery fees, are charged to developers to cover the cost of new development so the cost for new infrastructure is minimal on existing taxpayers.

Here are the changes, pending approval of a second reading June 13:
  • The proposed new fees for residential developments, including single-family houses, range from $11,860-$14,825.
  • The existing fees for such developments are $6,134-$7,668.
  • The difference ranges from $5,726-$7,157—a 93% increase.
Additionally, water and wastewater impact fees for commercial developments are proposed to increase based on the size of a development’s water meter:
  • The proposed new fees, depending on water meter size, range from $14,825-$1.14 million.
  • The existing fees for such developments range from $7,668-$587,928.
  • The difference is a 93% increase.
The only proposed increase that isn’t 93% is for a 3-inch line, which is proposed to go from $112,587 to $158,137—a 40% increase.

Council last raised its water and wastewater impact fees in 2019.

Zooming in: League City’s existing water and wastewater impact fees for a single-family home are lower than several nearby cities. For instance, Pearland’s fee is $9,265 compared to League City’s $7,668.

By increasing the fee to $14,825, League City would be on the high end when it comes to such fees when compared to nearby cities.

Council can choose to increase fees up to 93% or any amount lower, officials said. Additionally, council can choose to lower the fees on a case-by-case basis to attract the businesses the city wants and so it isn’t filled with strip malls, nail salons and vape shops, Council Member Chad Tressler said.

What they’re saying: Russel Bynum, general manager for Hillwood Communities, which is developing a 700-acre housing development on the city’s west side, spoke out against the fee increases, as did an attorney representing developers on the west side.

Both questioned parts of the study that resulted in the recommended maximum increase of 93%.

“I really implore you to get this right,” Bynum said.

Council members directed city staff to answer residents’ technical concerns before the second reading June 13.

Council Member John Bowen said he was not on council but in the audience when council first approved impact fees four or five years ago. Back then, some worried impact fees would curtail development, but that didn’t happen, he said.

“It’s responsible and incumbent upon us to make sure there is zero impact to existing citizens for development,” he said.

Mayor Nick Long agreed.

“I think we need to go up to the maximum,” he said. “People causing the impact need to pay for that impact.”

Tressler also noted residents’ take on impact fees is evident.

“The people of League City have been very, very, very clear in every possible form of communication, including at the ballot box, that they don’t want us helping growth,” he said.

Cones, the only dissenting voter, said something must be wrong for the fees to need to increase 93% in only a four-year period.

“I just don’t like how this is being done,” he said.