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Ozark chooses $1,500 sewer connection fee

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New subdivision development is ready to resume in Ozark, where the Board of Alderman May 2 approved a $1,500 sewer connection fee for all new residential construction. The fee, which replaces Ozark’s $300 sewer impact fee, became effective with Mayor Donna McQuay’s signature at the meeting.

While voters April 5 approved a $25.5 million revenue bond for a new waste-water treatment facility, they rejected an $1,800 sewer impact fee to fund the project. The vote halted new subdivision plotting and development, but Ozark continued to issue building permits for approved subdivisions.

Now, instead of charging builders the $1,800 sewer impact fee per home, builders pay a $1,500 sewer connection fee on new construction. Some believe Ozark officials skirted around the issue by renaming it.

“You can call it a lollipop for all I care,” Matt Morrow said with a laugh. As executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield, Morrow had proposed a $15 monthly surcharge for new customers. “I don’t think it’s a model of how government ought to work. Typically it’s always good to get direction from voters, and when you get that direction it’s usually wise to follow it.”

Ozark City Administrator Collin Quigley said Morrow’s proposal simply wouldn’t have generated enough revenue.

“We need to make up this $800,000 in revenue shortfall per year and needed to move forward,” he said, adding that the city’s waste-water treatment facility is close to its capacity of 1.75 million gallons per day.

Ozark officials have built a 3.5 percent annual increase into the connection fee, which will be collected for 20 years. The increase, Quigley said, mirrors inflation and the increase in principal and interest of the debt service for the $25.5 million bond issue to pay for the waste-water treatment center.

But such increases, Morrow said, could stifle future development.

“If you add to the price of a new home, you get fewer homes. Because you get fewer homes and you’re relying on a constant rate of growth for revenues, your revenues are going to fall short,” Morrow said.

Ozark’s not alone

Meanwhile, Nixa officials also are considering raising builders’ fees in order to pay for city needs. Nixa could increase its capacity fee – currently $250 per single-family residence – to $1,319, according to City Administrator Brian Bingle.

The additional monies would fund Nixa’s municipal, park, Police and sewer needs. The subject is on Nixa City Council’s May 11 agenda, but Bingle said a date for council to vote has not been set.

The city of Hollister also might boost fees when builders apply for new residential construction permits. Hollister council members were to discuss increasing water installation fees during the May 5 City Council meeting, said City Clerk Sheryl Brashear. The fees, last increased in June 2003, are based on the size of the meter and range from $225 to $3,175.

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