City of Lincoln
2006 Media Releases
Mayor Coleen J. Seng today called the Nebraska State Supreme Court decision upholding the City of Lincoln impact fee ordinance “welcome news that will clear a path for expanding the community.”
“The Supreme Court decision resolves the issue and clears the way for construction of many improvements to serve new neighborhoods and the entire community,” said the Mayor. “I know some builders felt very strongly about impact fees. This decision should end the disagreement so the community can move forward. It is time to put aside the past differences of opinion and work together to build Lincoln. New growth brings benefits to the entire community. It offers new job opportunities, brings new sales tax revenue and expands the property tax base. Let’s agree to move forward together.”
The State Supreme Court reaffirmed the District Court decision that the City of Lincoln has the authority under its Home Rule Charter to enact the impact fee ordinance.
Seng noted that the court decision does not solve Lincoln’s shortage of funds to keep up with the demand for streets, sewer and water lines. “The court decision removes a cloud that has been hanging over the revenue collected from impact fees,” she said. Impact fees do not cover the full cost of new infrastructure. Impact fees generate only about one-half of the actual cost of building new infrastructure.
“I reached out to the Home Builders Association of Lincoln this morning in an effort to bring us together,” Seng said. “The home builders are an important part of the community, and I really want to work with them closely. Nearly three years has been spent on this contentious issue, and it is time to move forward. The City has continued to grow and we have explored many ways to finance infrastructure. Since impact fees were first adopted by the City, we have made changes to make the use of impact fees more market-oriented and make the process easier for the builders. If the home builders and developers have suggestions on other ways to improve the impact fee process, I will gladly discuss it with them.”
The City Council approved the impact fee ordinance in January 2003. It was challenged in court later that year. The impact fee ordinance was enacted as a fair and predictable method to collect funding for a portion of the costs of building streets, water and wastewater and park improvements associated with new construction.
Impact fees have been collected on applications for new building permits since June 1, 2003. Since 2003, impact fees have generated more than $12 million toward infrastructure needs on more than 6,400 permits. The City already has spent about $4.5 million of impact fees on infrastructure and committed the remaining funds to infrastructure projects identified in the Capital Improvement Program. The funds are used to build new water mains and wastewater lines, to pave arterial streets and to create and maintain trails and parks.