By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Water and Sewer Committee of the Havre City Council will decide whether to waive hundreds of dollars in fees for a building that will house a new construction supply business in Havre. Some local contractors say the waiver would be unfair.
Patrick Construction requested in a letter to Mayor Bob Rice on May 10 that the city waive water and sewer impact fees required for the building, located on Second Street West between Computalog and Clausen and Sons. It will be leased to Fastenal, an industrial and construction supply company, the letter said.
The business hopes to open the store in early July, a spokesman said today.
Dave Peterson, Havre public works director, said the city charges one-time fees of $600 to connect 1-inch water and sewer lines and an extra $100 for every additional quarter-inch. There is also a fee of $300 for each lift station the sewer line must go through, he said. The fees pay for infrastructure maintenance, he said.
Businesses can ask the city to waive the fee, but it has only been done twice since the impact fee was instituted, Peterson said.
Schwan's Fine Foods and Northern Montana Hospital have had fees waived, he said.
People from two local contracting firms urged the committee to deny the request. They said waiving the fee would not bolster business as it was intended to.
Carol Bachini-Wood, president of C&C Excavation Inc., told the council that since Fastenal will only be leasing the building from Patrick Construction, Fastenal will not reap any benefits from the waiver.
Rice called Bachini-Wood's remarks "inflammatory."
After the meeting, she said the waiver is a good incentive to businesses who are building in the community, but Fastenal is only renting. Only the landlord will benefit from not having to pay the fees, she said.
Tyler Smith, manager of Lakeside Excavation, told the council that when he paid the fees for his building, he was not aware of the option to have the fee waived.
Rice said he thought it is common knowledge that businesses can ask to have their fees waived.
After the meeting, Smith said he paid $1,500 in impact fees when he built his building in the winter and spring of 2003.
"When we came down and purchased our water and sewer permits, nothing was ever said about waiving your fees," he said.
Rice sent the matter to the Water and Sewer Committee. The committee will meet June 7 at 7 p.m. to consider Patrick Construction's request for a fee waiver.
Committee chair Dana West said she needs to hear more input on the matter. She said she does not know if the city should make businesses more aware that they can request the waiver.
"I think it's one of those things that people request, and I think there are numerous requests that are available that aren't advertised," West said.
Tom Patrick did not attend the meeting, and could not be reached for comment today.
Fastenal, a Minnesota-based company that sells industrial and construction supplies like fasteners and cutting tools, plans to open a store in Havre in early July, said Justin Mayer, the company's district manager in Montana.
The Havre store will employ two employees at first and may eventually employ as many as six, he said.
Fastenal has 1,340 stores worldwide and eight in Montana. It employs approximately 2,800 people, Mayer said.
The store will be leasing space from Tom Patrick, Mayer said.
In other business Monday:
The council voted 8-0 to authorize the city's application for Community Development Block Grant funds for a new Head Start facility in Havre.
The council voted 8-0 to authorize a drawdown of $15,000