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Amador County Developers May Soon See Increased Fees

By Stan Oklobdzija

Following a meeting of the Amador County Board of Supervisors, developers hoping to build in Amador County may soon be forking out a little extra money.

In order to fund future capital improvement projects, developers may be charged $3,500 per residential dwelling and a yet unknown sum for commercial projects as part of a new Capital Facilities Fee to be levied on future development. This is up from the current fee of $900 per equivalent dwelling unit and is the result of a nexus study put out by Goodwin Consulting Group, a firm employed by the county to assess growth and need for improved facilities to accommodate it. As part of state law, counties are required to complete the study in order to demonstrate “that a reasonable relationship exists between the development impact fee to be levied … and the cost of facilities attributable to that land use,” according to the text of the nexus study.

Victor Irzyck, an affiliate of Goodwin Consulting Group, said that in order to finance the new county administration center and the new sheriff´s detention facility, single-family residences would owe the county $7,054. The cost was calculated by dividing the cost of the two new facilities by apportioning out what would be attributable to new growth and then factoring out a fee based on residential and commercial development. As it stands, the administration center will cost an estimated $15 million whereas the sheriff´s detention facility will cost an estimated $18.8 million, according to Irzyk and GCG´s report.

In a report given to the board of supervisors last year, County Administrative Officer Patrick Blacklock stated that expansion of the jail is necessary because on average, its population is at or above the jail´s capacity. Additionally, many county buildings need to be put into compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

Blacklock urged the board to take cautious steps in advancing this fee increase.

“Staff recommends a staggered increase,” he said, noting that $1,500 would be a good starting figure. “A small enough increase will allow us to complete an educational campaign,” he added.

The shock of such a dramatic fee increase weighed heavy on the minds of the supervisors.

“How far can we go with this?” asked District 3 Supervisor Richard Vinson. “The fee for a new house is already $7,500. You´re talking about $10,000 to $11,000 in fees. Maybe we´ll be here by ourselves.”

Vinson advanced the idea of a moderate increase to $3,500.

“We´re going to get a lot of flack for this,” said District 1 Supervisor Richard Escamilla.

When asked why the board opted ignore staff advice, Blacklock said, “The board is very concerned about impending development and is making sure the development pays its fair share. It doesn´t want to see the costs that the county incurs from new development picked up by current residents.”

Burke Ranch resident Butch Cranford also spoke during the public forum.

“If the county believes this is a genuine need, it shouldn´t be that difficult to sell,” he said. “The people who will be living in Amador County in two or three years aren´t even here now.”

“I´m not worried about all the people coming in from the Bay Area and Southern California,” said District 4 Louis Boitano, “I´m worried about people here now. I guess I´ll support this, because it´s a start.”

The city council motioned to raise the EDU fee to $3,500 and directed an update of the nexus study to find a corresponding fee for commercial development. The motion passed unanimously.

Blacklock indicated that staff would revise the nexus study and report back to council with the appropriate changes. The board could then approve or deny the new fees.

“We´ll come again to do a final approval of the nexus study,” he said.

Reprinted with kind permission from

Amador Ledger Dispatch