The Development Impact Fee (DIF) reduction established in August 2011 will continue for another 12 months at the will of Mammoth Lakes Town Council after the Wednesday, July 24 Council meeting. The initial request to reduce the DIF, a fee that affects residential as well as commercial projects in Mammoth Lakes, was put to Council by the local Contractors Association as a stimulus to encourage continuing development during the economic recession.
Town staff reported at Wednesday’s meeting, the result of the Fiscal Year 2012/13 DIF reduction remained unclear. Senior Planner Sandra Moberly noted “a minor increase in building permits over the past year,” from seven to eight permits for new, single family residences. She reported no permits for commercial projects subject to DIF during that same period. For the single family home projects, Town waived a total of $45,899 in DIF. The Town had estimated waiving $73,678.
In Fiscal Year 2011/12, the DIF waived was $165,163, with an estimate of $73,678. The commercial Rock N Bowl project permit accounted for $113,791 of that total. That same year, 7 of the 11 project applicants indicated that the DIF reduction influenced them to move forward with their building permit.
However, with no corresponding survey this past fiscal year, the increase in permits for single family homes may be less the result of the DIF reduction, Moberly reported, and more the result of a slow but steady recovery in the national economy. Staff therefore requested that Council continue the DIF reduction for another year to allow time for a comprehensive DIF study that would yield more definitive conclusions.
“Have we funded this [comprehensive review] yet?” asked Mayor Rick Wood. Mayor Pro-Tem Jo Bacon answered, “Actually, no.” She noted that Council will “need to review funding the comprehensive study when we do our midyear budget review so we would have the study done by June, 2014.
Town Manager MMMartinez maintained the importance of such a study, noting that it would not only determine whether or not the DIF reduction is a successful tool for economic stimulus, but also whether “DIF is the right mechanism to fund Capital Improvements that it currently is funding. Is there a different mechanism?” she wondered.
Mayor Wood questioned whether Town could even complete a comprehensive DIF study in the six months after the midyear budget review, before the DIF reduction is set to expire again. MMMartinez replied, “Possibly, if we began midyear.” At present, she said, Town staff “just doesn’t have the time” to assist a consultant with a DIF study.
Council approved the continuation of the DIF reduction by unanimous vote.