Rise of Impact Fees could mean higher costs for EPWU ratepayers


POSTED: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 7:06pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 10:40pm

The fastest growing parts of the Sun City may costs El Paso Water Utility ratepayers some extra cash because the company says they need to build new water facilities in Far Northeast, Far west, and the Far East sides of El Paso.

These new subdivisions need water facilities such as pumps and pipelines. The plan to hike the impact fees could mean higher costs for home builders and ratepayers.

The City of El Paso is growing at a faster rate than the water it can supply.

"Capital improvements plan states how we’re going to pay for new facilities,” John Balliew, President of EPWU says. Balliew adds they need to build new water pumps and other facilities in Far East, Far Northeast, and Far West El Paso so that new homeowners in these areas will have access to water. "The whole premise behind an impact fee is that new growth pays for itself.'

That's why the city of El Paso has been exploring impact fees for home builders -- the city may choose to increase existing fees to the different areas. For instance, a builder putting up a new home in West El Paso would add more than $2,000 to the price of the home.

The price to build your dream home on the East Side would go up nearly $4,000 and that starter home in the Northeast -- tack on another $3,500 to the price. Officials say the city may choose to decrease that amount... But that would mean a larger bill for the rest of us.

"if the individual unit that are being built don't pay for their share, that means the rest of the water system ratepayers have to pay for it,” Mathew McElroy, the Director of the City Development Department tells us.

The City Development Department adds, EPWU may choose other ways to fund their capital improvement plan -- the plan which includes these new developments. "Or, the water utilities can go out and get grants or reduce their low-interest loans."

But the final decision -- rests on city council, "We now that home demand is elastic so if price goes up demand goes down."

If city council chooses to pass some of the costs onto ratepayers -- we could see a few more dollars tacked onto water bills. Council is definitely not finished with talking about the impact fee. There will be a public hearing on March 4th during the council meeting, where they may ultimately decide not to adopt the fee at all.

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