Stanfield would be justified in more than doubling its system development charges, according to a report by an engineering firm, but city councilors aren’t interested in raising fees that high.

Dave Wildman of Anderson Perry & Associates presented the firm’s findings to the Stanfield City Council on Tuesday. According to their methodology for calculating system development charges, Stanfield’s rate should be $13,347 per new residential unit instead of the current $5,399.

Wildman recommended against raising the charges that high, however.

“You would probably put a screeching halt on development in Stanfield if you charged that much,” he said.

System development charges are meant to help a city pay for the costs associated with new development, including increased strain on roads, water and sewer systems.

To calculate how much the city would be justified in charging to completely recoup those costs, Anderson Perry & Associates calculated how much the city still has to pay for system infrastructure like a new pump station, as well as how much capacity those systems have left before they need to be expanded again.

City manager Blair Larsen told the council he would be against significantly raising system development charges, but it was helpful to have the justification on paper in case developers challenged the fees in the future.

He did, however, suggest that the council look at diversifying where the money from the fees goes. Currently the city uses the money for water and sewer system improvements, but Larsen suggested the council consider splitting some of that money with transportation and parks funds as well.

Mayor Thomas McCann said setting system development charges seemed like a “catch-22” for the city, because raising fees too high would discourage new development but keeping them low would draw in development without providing the means for the city to pay for services.

No official action was taken on the draft report after a few minor inaccuracies were pointed out by public works director Scott Morris, but councilors expressed a desire to follow Larsen’s recommendation to keep system development charges at their current rate and add transportation and parks to the list of funds served by the charges.

During Tuesday’s meeting the council also approved a request by Stanfield’s senior center board to turn the Stanfield Community Center building at 225 W. Roosevelt Ave. over to the group.

The group recently spent $75,000 on improvements to the building and is pursuing further capital improvement grants.

According to board members in attendance and councilor Pam McSpadden, the building was in the senior center board’s possession in the past, until someone decided the center’s name should be changed from the Stanfield Senior Center to the Stanfield Community Center.

Stanfield Senior Center, Inc. was dissolved and a new corporation called Stanfield Community Center, Inc. was created. Afterward it was discovered that the action had caused a reversionary clause to kick in and the group no longer owned the building.

Larsen said in 2008 Umatilla County deeded the property to the city with a stipulation that it be reserved for public use for the next 20 years. He said the senior center board planned to continue providing the building for public use, and councilors approved the move as long as the senior center group agreed to bear any associated legal costs.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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