City considers impact fees for road improvements

Public hearing scheduled for Sept. 13 City Council meeting

A process is currently underway in Round Rock to consider assessing fees on new development to help fund road improvements.

The Round Rock City Council held an initial public hearing about roadway impact fees at their regularly scheduled Council meeting on Thursday, July 26. A second public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13.

Roadway impact fees are one-time costs assessed to developers in order to improve roadway capacity. The funds can be used to help accommodate growth and serve the overall transportation system as allowed by state law. According to the 2017 Transportation Master Plan, more than $1.2 billion in new roadway capacity is needed to accommodate future growth in the City of Round Rock.

“With impact fees, we would have the flexibility to use that funding to immediately create relief in the region,” said Transportation Director Gary Hudder.

The City currently negotiates site-specific improvements with developers, such as adding deceleration lanes, or contributions to intersection improvements including traffic signals, based on a case-by-case traffic impact analysis. But not all developments require this analysis as part of the planning and development process.

“Currently, in the case of multiple strip developments, someone who develops on the front end might not require a contribution, based on a traffic impact analysis. However, the next adjacent development could trip the trigger for necessary improvements, thereby absorbing the full burden for the entire area.” Hudder said. “Traffic impact fees would allow us to have a more fair process to assess proportional developer contributions to City infrastructure throughout the full development process.”

On January 11, council members approved a contract with Kimley-Horn & Associates, Inc. to evaluate, develop and create an implementation plan for roadway impact fees. Roughly one quarter of cities in Texas, mostly in high-growth areas, have roadway impact fees. Central Texas cities Hutto, Taylor, Schertz, Cibolo and New Braunfels currently employ such fees, and the Cities of Austin and Buda are also currently studying roadway impact fees. The City of Round Rock has used impact fees allowed by Chapter 395 of the Texas Local Government Code since 1989 for water and wastewater projects.

City officials conducted a study to identify the fee per unit of new development necessary to fund these improvements in accordance with state law. The Capital Improvements Advisory Committee (CIAC) met June 20 and July 18 to review information that will be used in calculating the maximum fee that can be considered by state law. Stakeholder meetings were held June 15 and Aug. 7, and an open house for the public was held Aug. 7 to solicit input from residents. The CIAC will hold another meeting to review the maximum fee at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 15.

A draft ordinance on this issue is expected to return to City Council this fall.

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