On Monday evening, the Auburn City Council raised park mitigation fees from abysmally low $1,073.28 to moderately low $5,108 (“Park impact fees to increase for the first time in nearly 20 years,” Journal, June 26).
Many describe this as a shocking tax increase. Actually, it isn’t.
It’s actually a taxpayer-advocacy step because, without mitigation impact fees, as population goes up, current residents end up with the ugly choice of having to raise taxes or watch their parks deteriorate.
Either way, current residents pay dearly.
Until Monday evening, homebuilders were only paying about 16 percent (approximately one-sixth) of the impact they had on Auburn parks.
So if a development increased the population of Auburn by 12 percent, it would only be required to pay for 2 percent increased park use.
That left unmitigated the 10 percent increased crowding, 10 percent increased maintenance needs and wearing facilities out 10 percent faster.
Now developers will have to pay for 75 percent of their park impacts. Current residents/taxpayers will still have to pick up 25 percent of the park needs of new residents, either in taxes, donations or parks deterioration.
If we lived on the frontier, each new well-armed family would make us safer from Comanches, and it would make sense for us to pay for new families to move in. But each new family that moves into Auburn today means our parks get more crowded and wear out quicker. We shouldn’t pay for this.
Auburn’s park mitigation fees are still 11 percent lower than Colfax (second-lowest-in-the-region). We are still losing ground with each new resident that moves in, but now we are losing ground slowly, instead of quickly.
Gordon Ainsleigh, member of the board of directors, Auburn Area Recreation and Park District