Clovis News

Clovis to waive fees for business growth

The city of Clovis will offer a fee-reduction incentive to developers who want to build or expand an office or industry in the next 18 months.

On Monday night, council members voted 5-0 to suspend the city's "major" water and sewer impact fees as of Jan. 1.

The goal is to try to attract new businesses and jobs.

In recent years the city has had few prospects seeking permits to open new businesses or expand, said Tina Sumner, the city's economic and community development director.

"If we did have a hot prospect we would not be as likely to do this," Sumner said. "We hear from the real estate brokers that businesses are starting to talk about expanding and relocating, so this is a real opportune time to change up that game."

Clovis has a reputation among developers of having higher fees, she said, but "if you look over the entire life of a project, our fees are not that much higher."

Council members agreed that the program is worth a try. They suggested measuring its success by comparing job-creation numbers over the next 18 months with jobs created in the past 18 months.

"If we get two jobs, then it's two jobs we didn't have in the past," Council Member Jose Flores said.

Under the new incentive, if a developer wants to build on a 1-acre site with 10,000 square feet of space, fees would be reduced about $53,000, Sumner said.

City documents show that sewer and water facilities fees represent one-third to one-half of developers' initial fees.

But there will be limits set on the amounts of water that can be consumed and waste that can be generated for any new or expanding business, said Robert Woolley, interim city manager.

The program was supported by a handful of audience members, including resident Dale Drozen, who has criticized the council in the past for residential sewer and water rate increases.

"As much as I would hate to see these fees waived when I am paying extra fees, you need to prime the pump," he said.

In other action, the council also approved a change in the city's curfew ordinance to allow police to more easily keep gang members or criminals from gathering on private property and in city parks.