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Building fees on the rise
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With the sluggish economy and high foreclosure rate, the building industry in Ceres has been at a standstill. But when it revives, builders will find Public Facility Fees (PFF) have doubled.

The city has increased its fees on single-family residences from $13,302 to $25,299.

Public facility fees are designed to make new growth pay for its share of infrastructure. The fees are to pay for infrastructure needs related to police, fire, sewer and water facilities as well as park space, community needs, transportation, drainage, information technology, municipal facilities.

The city spent seven months in 2008 to revamp its fees and had to analyze the connection between need and funding gaps. The last update in the fees was made 11 years ago.

If the city didn't charge the added fees on new development, the existing residents would end up subsidizing growth, said Mayor Anthony Cannella.

"I think the council and I certainly don't feel that it's the public's responsibility to supplement their project," said Cannella. "We weren't collecting enough for the need of new houses and commercial businesses."

Cannella said the fees mean projects will be less attractive as far as profits are concerned.

"However, if you do a comparison of all the cities in Stanislaus County, we were at the lowest by almost 50 percent."

Cannella said the higher fees mean developers will either pay less for land or won't make as much profit.

"Regardless, that's the cost of doing business. These are based on studies."

In examining needs and costs, the nexus study looked at the community facilities needs for a community at build-out, or 80,000 residents as required by the general plan. The fee needed to be adjusted upward, said Cannella, to help pay for facilities that may include an animal shelter, performing arts center, westside community center or an aquatics center.

The nexus study indicates that Ceres will need two new fire stations in the future as well as replace the oldest one, #2 (the former Industrial station). The stations are estimated to cost $10.8 million.

For roads, needs have been identified to widen Crows Landing Road, Whitmore Avenue, Central Avenue, Service Road, and Morgan Road to four lanes as well as add new traffic signals, new medians, curbs, gutters and sidewalks. Other needs are modifications to the Hatch/99 overpass

The higher fees should result in the city taking in $542.3 million by the time of build-out.