Kalispell Begins Search for Alternate Funding for Roads

By Beacon Staff

Now that the decision to repeal transportation impact fees has been made, Kalispell city officials have a couple sizeable voids to fill.

A replacement strategy is needed to help pay for roads, and an entirely new Impact Fee Committee needs to be assembled.

Kalispell city attorney and acting city manager Charles Harball told councilors and the mayor at a work session on Feb. 13 that city staff would begin gathering ideas and information about ways to alleviate future road congestion.

“So long as growth is flat we have a little time to talk about this,” he said. “But we do have the interest in this now and everybody seems to be very motivated to come up with some solutions.”

In the aftermath of last week’s narrow decision to repeal the transportation fees, the four citizen members of the city’s Impact Fee Committee resigned in protest. The committee had unanimously recommended the continuation of the transportation impact fee program.

Kalispell still has five other impact fee programs in place and state law requires that cities maintain a committee concentrating on those programs, Harball said. He proposed the city begin soliciting names of suitable replacements soon.

Councilor Wayne Saverud, who was absent from last week’s meeting because of a prior engagement, said he was upset that he was not part of the discussion or the vote. He suggested the council wait until everyone is present before voting on such an important matter in the future.

“I would be flattering myself if I thought I could change one or two votes,” he said. “But it’s a matter of perception and it’s a matter of being a basic right.”

The reimbursement process for anyone who paid into the transportation impact fee program is beginning. Harball said roughly $148,000 would be refunded to the current landowners of the properties that originally paid into the impact fee program, as state law requires. Harball said refund checks would be mailed out March 14.