Little Rock’s leadership has been positively allergic to impact fees as anti-development.
Other cities in Arkansas see things differently. Bentonville, Conway, Fayetteville, Lowell and Rogers levy various fees to pay for new city services demanded by growth.
Bentonville, which saw a building boom in the past decade, started collecting capacity fees for sewer and water and a fire impact fee in 2002. In 2006, it added police, parks and the library.
As state law requires, the fee is charged only on new construction and the income is dedicated to capital expenditures that result from growth. The fees have added an average of $4,322 to the cost of a new home, but the $13 million generated has, among other things, helped build a new fire station and added on to another, upsized sewer lines, added water lines, and bought a police car and ambulance.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin said. “I’d much prefer a city that didn’t have impact fees. But I am not going to be foolish with the taxpayers and say if we took that away we could provide for you what we provided in the past.”
McCaslin said he’d heard the argument that growth pays for itself. “As a former math teacher,” he said, he could say “it does not.”
Builders are suing Bentonville over the fees.