RIM fees get first approval

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

For the second time in two months, Calaveras County supervisors have introduced an ordinance to set road impact mitigation fees.

The ordinance, endorsed yesterday with a 3-2 vote, would levy RIM fees on residential and commercial builders. Adoption is scheduled next week.

Counties and cities use RIM fees to upgrade roads to handle increased traffic. RIM fee revenue pays for new roads and road expansion not for repairs such as filling potholes or re-paving.

Under the proposed Calaveras ordinance, the fee would be $3,300 per single-family home and $2,400 per apartment, duplex or condo unit.

Commercial fees would vary depending on the business. For example: $1.90 for each square foot of a 10,000-square-feet retail center.

The ordinance also calls for the Calaveras Council of Governments the agency overseeing creation of the RIM fees to work out the details of a new tax to pay for more road work.

Last December, supervisors voted 3-2 to introduce a RIM fee ordinance under which would have exempted commercial development.

But Supervisor Lucy Thein later changed her vote, and the ordinance died.

Yesterday, it was supervisors Thein, Merita Callaway and Victoria Erickson who voted in favor of the new proposal.

Supervisors Paul Stein and Tom Tryon voted against it.

Stein argued that commercial developers should have the option of paying RIM fees in advance, or paying them after their businesses are established.

"The cost of this could be so exorbitant, it might drive them away," Stein said.

But Erickson said it's wrong to argue that commercial RIM fees discourage growth because, even without RIM fees, the county hasn't attracted many new businesses, she said.

"I think the reason we don't have commercial development is because we don't go out proactively to get it, and we haven't been friendly to them when they've knocked on our door," she said.

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