Impact fees could become a way to fund growth and development projects in Idaho Falls - East Idaho News
Idaho Falls

Impact fees could become a way to fund growth and development projects in Idaho Falls

  Published at  | Updated at

IDAHO FALLS – Growth is the word of the day in Idaho Falls.

From business development to congestion on city streets to the number of 911 calls and hospital patients, the growing population has had an impact on nearly every industry. The city of Idaho Falls is looking at ways to keep up with it and manage it effectively.

One of the things being considered is the implementation of impact fees to help fund infrastructure improvement projects. City Engineer Kent Fugal tells these fees would be paid by the contractor for each building project.

The city launched an impact fee study last spring, the results of which will be discussed during a public hearing Thursday night. The purpose of it was to provide a long-term growth outlook and how impact fees could be applied.

“The rate of growth we’re experiencing comes with a need for additional infrastructure. The study helped quantify that,” Fugal says.

The expansion of Holmes Avenue and other high-traffic streets in town is an example of one project the fees could be used for.

The study looked at traffic flow citywide compared to population and square miles of retail and industrial space to determine how many lane miles are needed to accommodate future growth and how much it would cost. The study indicates there are 23.4 miles of roads that will need to be upgraded or expanded over the next decade. The projected cost is $16,050,000.

Infrastructure improvements are needed in other areas as well. The influx of people in the area has created a 14% increase in residential development over the last year, according to the study. The city is projected to see an increase of nearly 3,500 apartments over the next 10 years and $6,027 is the maximum fee amount that can go towards a single-family development.

Idaho Falls Fire Department Chief Duane Nelson says there was an increase of 2,000 calls in 2021 — the largest increase it’s ever experienced. Current resources make meeting the demand for emergency services a real challenge.

“One-time new construction impact fees will allow our department to maintain the same level of service residents are accustomed to as growth happens,” Nelson explains. “Impact fees will provide us with some of the funding needed as we plan for the future of emergency services in our community.”

IFFD’s projected needs include an additional 6,000-square-feet of working space and 13,696-square-feet of firefighter training space.

The Idaho Falls Police Department is seeing a similar trend. Over the last five years, Captain Joel Tisdale says they’ve seen a steady increase in calls for service, particularly assaults, violent crimes, vehicle collisions “and other serious incidents that require a larger and more complex police response.”

“Population growth is outstripping our capacity to hire and equip new police officers, among other challenges. Necessary equipment for officers today includes vehicles, body cameras, TASERs, vests, flashlights, etc. Funds made available by impact fees will begin to bridge the funding gap and help us try to keep our service delivery at the standard expected by our citizens, something we’re not sure we can do without impact fees,” says Tisdale.

Other projected needs include 15 new police vehicles and an additional 7,000-square-feet of space for personnel.

The 75-page study also highlights job growth, needed improvements to the city’s parks and recreational areas and more. Click here to read it.

The impact fee study will be discussed during a city council public hearing Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. The community is invited to attend and weigh in. It will be held inside the City Council Chambers at 680 Park Avenue. You can also attend virtually.