LCAH owes system charges for Ames Creek Court project

Linn County Affordable Housing still owes the City of Sweet Home some $30,000 in systems development charges (SDC) from its Ames Creek Court development, which opened in 1998.

Linn County Affordable Housing (LCAH) paid $16,000 in SDCs upon the completion of the project.

LCAH received an initial cost estimate verbally from the Public Works Department, City Manager Craig Martin said. That estimate was low. After the project was completed and residents were moving in during July 1998, LCAH had not received a bill from Public Works.

That bill was delivered late to LCAH in August 1998, Martin said. To waive all or part of the SDCs needed to go before the city council. At that time LCAH Director Dianna Cvitanovich and he were discussing what needed to be done for LCAH to obtain a property tax waiver for the development and the city council agenda was running full, and he did not put the issue before the council.

Martin said he told Cvitanovich not to worry about the SDC because “it’s not like we’re going to turn off your water.”

During these discussions, Cvitanovich pointed to LCAH’s construction of 18th Avenue between Fir Street and Elm Streets as a mitigation for the additional SDCs.

At about this time, other issues came up on Long Street regarding Cascadia Village, also operated by LCAH, came up.

At that time I thought it was the best thing to and had mitigating circumstances,” Martin said, but the issue fell off of his agenda and he never brought the issue to the city council.

“If I had overstepped my authority, I should be held accountable,” Martin said. “I quite frankly think that the off-site improvements more than offset the SDCs.”

Cvitanovich concurred with Martin’s account.

At the time, LCAH had been told the SDCs for the development, which is located at the corner of 18th Avenue and Fir Street, would be about $30,000.

LCAH made the $16,000 payment then received a bill for $32,000 later, Cvitanovich said. The billing did not match what LCAH had been told so she went to Martin.

The council and city manager were busy at that time, then things got busier, Cvitanovich said. At this point, LCAH is waiting to get through the land use proceedings for a proposed development at the south end of Sunset Lane, before going to the council with a request for a waiver.

“Craig never once implied that he had the ability to forgive the SDCs,” Cvitanovich said. “He always said to us we’d have to go to city council.”

LCAH paid about $78,000 in off-site improvements for the development, Cvitanovich said. The street improvement alone represents about $55,000 of that figure.

When questioned by City Councilman Robert G. Danielson about the charges, Martin told the council that LCAH had more than made up for the SDCs with the off-site street improvements, which were not required as a part of the development.

The bigger question surrounding the issue is whether the city manager had the authority to make a decision on the charges, Martin said. City Attorney Robert Snyder is reviewing the issue and ordinances relating to the charges.

“If that’s a decision that has to be made by the council formally, then I have no problem bringing it to the council,” Martin said.