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RICHMOND HOOKUP FEES RISE SHARPLY

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Homebuilders will shell out thousands to link into this northern Utah city's water and sewer system, at least for the time being.

The Richmond City Council more than doubled hookup fees Tuesday after deciding to study impact fees. Homebuilders had been paying $1,400 to link into both the water and sewer systems. Now, the total fees for water, sewer, sidewalk and roads could range from $4,000 to $9,000, depending on the size of the new home's lot.Hookup fees are intended to pay the direct costs of linking a home into a city's existing system, while impact fees are meant to pay the cost of the new home's added strain on the system. For example, a sewer system may need to be expanded after too many homes link into it.

The council hopes to hire a consultant to study both types of fees, but put off a decision until it can decide how to pay the consulting fee of more than $5,000.

In the meantime, the higher hookup fees will be levied on new construction. If studies show they are too high, the council will refund the excess back to homebuilders.

Some builders, meantime, worry that the fees amount to a tax aimed only at newcomers.

"The new homebuyer and especially the first-time homebuyer isn't here to represent himself," said Don Corbridge, a local contractor. "One of the effects of raising (fees) this drastically is that we push away those that we want to retain."

People coming from California who sell their homes and can afford a large down payment may be able to afford the new fees, he said, but young Cache County families may not have the money.

But Mayor Derwin Merrill has said Richmond's budget is being strained trying to keep up with the expenses of new homes.