Impact Fee Audit Complete, Panciocco Has Questions

Town Attorney Michael Ramsdell advised the Town Council on Monday that the Dec. 31, 2012 court-ordered audit of the town’s impact fee assessments dating back to 1994 has been completed. Ramsdell said a petition had been filed with the Rockingham Superior Court after town officials discovered “issues with the impact fee program that had been administered for some period of time.”

Ramsdell said the court ordered that an audit be conducted; it is now complete. “It took a significant amount of time for that audit to be done because it covered an 18-year period,” Ramsdell said. “The report is now actually on the town’s web site. I know it has been produced to counsel for the other parties and I’m happy to say that most of the parties in the case have had their matters resolved.

There is one party left that frankly just needs to file a motion to get funds dispersed and that have already been paid into the court, and then that’s going to leave a group of parties that have all expressed concerns and interest and their attorney has a copy of the audit report. We’ve agreed that we are going to sit down and between the 3rd and 13th of September and see if we can resolve those parties’ concerns and hopefully put this thing to bed.”

However, as of press time Tuesday afternoon, the link to the impact fee audit had not been posted on the town’s webpage. “It was given to IT (Information Technology) today to be posted. Keep checking the town homepage today and it will be there,” said Leiann Cotton of the town’s Finance Department on Tuesday. Ramsdell also said Monday night that the impact fee ordinance currently in existence needs some amendments by the council and the planning board. He said they should examine impact fee ordinances in a half dozen other communities to try and put together what he termed a comprehensive and “state of the art, considering the law” ordinance.

He said there was still work to be done on impact fee implementation, should the planning board and town council decide to charge impact fees again. “I think that the matter will get behind the town pretty soon. At least I’m hopeful,” Ramsdell said. Attorney Patricia Panciocco, who said she represented a group of developers named in the suit, said she had hoped a couple of questions could be addressed. Chairman John Farrell said, however, that the council had not yet seen the audit.

She said she hoped that the board would consider some of the “broader ramifications” that emerged in the impact fee audit and consider tying together all the loose ends that were identified. She said the questions she was raising hopefully would be considered at a later date. Panciocco said she wanted the council to look at how the impact fees were handled and the “fundamental flaws and some of the studies on which some of these have been made.

“Although the audit may be complete, I do not feel that all the work is done,” Panciocco said. “That’s the main point I wanted to put before the council this evening.” Farrell said town has taken the matter very seriously. “We have left no stone unturned,” he said.

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