An Ascension Parish Council citizens committee tasked with looking at the feasibility of impact fees will consider a mission for itself that goes beyond fees for transportation alone.
Gasper Chifici, a parish planning and zoning commissioner who also chairs the committee, provided a copy of a proposed mission statement this week that contemplates the possibility of a wider outlook.
The proposed statement says the group will analyze the financial impact of providing expanded capital improvements due to growth.
The group’s primary goal will be to develop “recommendations to the Parish Finance Committee with regard to the imposition of impact fees for transportation improvements” and draft an ordinance if the need for fees is determined.
But the statement also lists as a “secondary goal” to look at “the justification of imposing impact fees for various other purposes, and to draft an ordinance or ordinances, if justified.”
Chifici said the proposed statement will be considered for adoption when the Impact Fee Exploratory Committee meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the council chambers anteroom at the Parish Courthouse Annex in Gonzales.
“We all agreed that we would focus on transportation initially and that perhaps look at impact fees with respect to raising funds for other improvements based upon impact,” Chifici said Monday.
Other members of the committee are fellow commissioners Donald Songy and Joshua Ory, lawyer Diane Cosenza, builder Billy Aguillard and businesspeople Elizabeth Dunn Laurent and Ken Firmin.
When the committee, which was named by Finance Committee Chairwoman Teri Casso, had its first meeting last month, questions were raised about what impact fees the group should consider.
Parish Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee, who does not sit on the committee but attended the meeting April 7, said the committee should focus on transportation impact fees because the parish provides roads and the parish cannot legally seek fees for services it does not provide.
Chifici said he has spoken with Casso since then and she likes the proposed statement with the broader outlook.
In an interview last month, Casso said she wanted the group to look at all the options for impact fees.
“If they came out with another great idea, I wouldn’t be opposed to it, you know, like fire, for example,” she said.
“(Ascension Parish Fire Protection) District 1 needs a funding mechanism for fire, and since the people in that district have not been inclined to support providing for their own fire and EMS protection, then certainly perhaps new people moving into new developments could fund it.”
The district’s volunteer departments are funded through a share of a half-cent parish sales tax. Nearly a year ago, on May 4, voters rejected proposed property taxes and parcel fees for the district.
Impact fees have been bandied about in Ascension for about 10 years as a way of improving traffic conditions stemming from the parish’s rapid growth but the idea has run into opposition.
Though Ascension officials have focused on transportation impact fees, which would charge fees on new housing and put the money toward capacity improvements only, impact fees are charged in other parts of the nation for a variety of government services. Baton Rouge city-parish government charges impact fees for roads and sewer.
Chifici said one area in addition to roads that could draw interest from the Ascension committee is wastewater impact fees when the parish is ready for it. Parish government is moving forward with plans to build a new regional sewer system in northwestern Ascension.