FAIRFIELD — Solano County has added a new component to its development fees, one designed to make growth help pay for rural road improvements.
The county has long charged a public facilities development fee to raise money for such projects as the county Government Center, health and social services buildings and the old courthouse renovations. Development in both rural areas and cities pay the fee.
But the county has never had a component for rural roads. That changed Tuesday with a unanimous vote from the Solano County Board of Supervisors.
The overall fee as of Feb. 3, 2014, will fall from $9,150 to $8,962 for a single-family home. But how the fee is broken up into various components will change, with $1,500 going to transportation projects. The county can use this money to cover the portion of rural transportation projects that are needed because of growth.
Among the projects the fee could help pay for in coming years is making improvements to rural sections of Peabody Road, Highway 113, Columbus Parkway and the Jepson Parkway.
The federal government has eliminated earmarks that used to go to transportation projects, Supervisor Jim Spering said. The state has limited money. Solano County has no transportation sales tax at a time when the state and federal governments want matching funds, he said.
When infrastructure deteriorates, property values deteriorate, he said.
“This is a chance for developers to pay their fair share,” Spering said.
Supervisor John Vasquez noted Solano County has most of its development take place in the cities. The rural roads are an important link between the cities, he said.
The board also authorized county staff to negotiate an agreement with the Solano Transportation Authority to coordinate how the money is spent. The Solano Transportation Authority is a joint powers agency among the county and its seven cities that coordinates regional transportation projects.
Supervisors talked about establishing a transportation developer fee as long ago as 2007. In 2010, the county began the necessary nexus study to show the link between growth and the proposed projects. The Solano Transportation Authority initiated a similar study in 2009 and the two agencies merged their efforts.
The study showed the county could legally charge a fee as high as $8,282 for transportation. The Solano Transportation Authority sent a letter to the county recommending a transportation fee of $1,500.
“That actually seems low, all things considered,” Supervisor Linda Seifert said. “If the fee had been larger, I think I could have supported that as well.”
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.