Issaquah City Council considers mitigation fee increases

The City Council on Tuesday continued deliberations over proposed changes to mitigation fees, which could go up exponentially.

The City Council on Tuesday continued deliberations over proposed changes to mitigation fees, which could go up exponentially.

The debate centers mainly around increases in the General Government Building Mitigation fees which, if the city chooses to raise the fees to the suggested amount, it could go from $86 per house to over $1,000 per house.

“We are still off everyone’s radars with these numbers,” said Randy Young of Henderson Young and Company, which worked on contract for the city to put together the numbers for suggested increases.

Developers are required to pay mitigation fees when a new building is constructed, the premise being that the fees will help offset the impact of the new construction on infrastructure in the community. Like many cities, Issaquah requires a set fee for buildings rather than taking each new project on an individual basis, Young said. Unlike taxes, the fees are a one-time cost.

“For something that starts out really easy,” councilman Fred Butler said. “It sure gets complicated early. It is sort of a pay-me-now or pay-me-later.”

Along with the General Government Building Mitigation fees, the council is also considering raising the fees for Parks and Police. However, these increases aren’t under debate because city officials have made it known that they feel those issues are necessities.

Issaquah’s parks mitigation fee has always been one of the higher fees. A conscious decision was made by the council several years ago in an effort to create a large park system in Issaquah, Young said.

“You were the ‘Sammamish transportation fee’ of parks,” Young said of the fees set up 10 years ago.

Government mitigations fees are not common in the state of Washington, although they are seen elsewhere in the country.

The Land Use committee has struggled with this issue for some time now, and sent the matter back to the Committee of the Whole, so that the Land Use Committee could gauge the council members’ thoughts before they come back to the full council with a recommendation.

One of the biggest dilemmas is creating a balance, officials said. If the fees are too high the city will not be able to attract growth. But, if the fee is too low, the sum won’t be enough to cover later infastructure.

The council does not have to increase the fees as much as recommended in the report. They could potentially take a percentage of the number, which would result in a lower jump in price.

This is the first time many of these fees have been adjusted in the past decade.

Kyra Low can be reached at or 391-0363, ext. 5050.