Based on the ongoing class action lawsuit against the city of Whitefish, attorney Mark Kovacich spoke with The Missoulian to give an update on the case’s current standing, emphasizing discrepancies in how the city evaluated the capacity of its water and sewer systems. The capacity of the system is a critical factor for calculating water and sewer impact fees because it establishes the number of users who should share the costs of the systems.
“There are lots of problems that we’ve identified with the way they’ve calculated impact fees,” said Mark Kovacich.
Two studies have been cited in the ongoing lawsuit illustrating the discrepancies in the city’s calculations for impact fees. Both studies calculated the maximum daily use of water by a residential property in Whitefish. The city relied on the first study to establish its impact fees, and the second to satisfy the Montana Department of Environmental Quality that’s its existing systems were sufficient to support its planned development. For impact fees, a higher daily use figure would suggest the systems could service fewer users resulting in higher fees from building permit applicants to the city. A lower daily use calculation, on the other hand, would satisfy the state that Whitefish’s water and sewer systems would meet its requirements to approve ongoing development. Although the evaluations were completed within just a few months of each other, the daily use figure the city utilized to calculate impact fees was approximately double the figure it provided to the state.
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