New Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fee schedule finally wins Lake Elsinore Council approval

The appearance of a Western Riverside Council of Government representative along with an explanation of the latest Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fee increase helped sway the Lake Elsinore City Council to approve the fee increases during the council’s regular Sept. 12 meeting.

The council was assured by WRCOG representative Director Rick Bishop that the newest TUMF fee increases would be used to help offset the $7.7 million cost of the expansion of the highly congested Railroad Canyon Road and Interstate 15 interchange.

In the council’s regular Aug. 22 meeting, the new 2017-2018 TUMF fee schedule was presented for approval by WRCOG that would continue a yearly rise in residential building unit fees, a slight office unit fee rise and a drop in industrial project square foot fees. Councilman Steve Manos was not satisfied that the nearly $22 million in estimated TUMF fees collected from developers in recent years was coming back to the city in needed highway transportation projects like the I-15 and Railroad Canyon Road interchange project. It was even suggested that Lake Elsinore might pull out of TUMF and WRCOG in the future, unless the money collected would eventually come back to the city in needed transportation projects – as promised.

Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Johnson joined Manos in voting “no” to the proposed TUMF increase Aug. 22. With the fifth councilmember Daryl Hickman absent, the TUMF fee increase proposal was defeated, but it automatically came back for another vote Sept. 12, when the entire council was present. The last day for Lake Elsinore and the other 17 cities and unincorporated areas in WRCOG to approve the fees and collect TUMF benefits was Sept. 12. Other cities and areas had already signed off on the fee increases.

The proposal was on the agenda again, and this time passed by a 5-0 vote, after Bishop told the council the Riverside County Transportation Commission had this past week authorized the use of $7.7 million for the design of the Railroad Canyon Road interchange project, as well as any right of way purchases needed including property acquisition. It would assure the developers who had paid into the project with their TUMF and those to come that they would benefit from the badly needed project.

Mayor Bob Magee, who had hinted earlier that maybe the city should pull out of WRCOG, made a sigh of relief after the vote Tuesday night, saying timing was everything and suggesting that had the council not voted to approve the TUMF increase, the money would have gone away.

Still, some councilmembers were not convinced they would see all of the $22 million collected come back, since until this year only $5 million had been used for Lake Elsinore transportation projects.

Manos said he still sees some inequity for Lake Elsinore in the TUMF program, but he understands the need for the money from TUMF to fund future projects and would vote for the TUMF schedule.

“I will take a wait and see approach,” to the program, he said and believed the city should be on “the front end of future projects.” He said he appreciated that earlier that evening a representative from Castle and Cooke for Alberhill and other major residential developments coming to the city had come forward to say they supported the new TUMF schedule.

Bishop suggested that the former city staff had not completed the needed forms and procedures in a timely manner to put the city in a better position for the ongoing TUMF projects. But, he added the council’s approval that night would bring the city even greater benefits and equity in the future.

Hickman, who was absent at the last meeting, said he agree with Manos on the inequity given the city and wanted the staff and the WRCOG officials to keep the council apprised of the progress in the proposed transportation projects. He said he would be keeping an eye on the staff to see the work is done, and added that if WRCOG didn’t give Lake Elsinore better equity for their money collected in TUMF, the city “should get the hell out!” He did vote “yes” on the new schedule.

Johnson also voted to approve the schedule, but she said the WRCOG needed to give Lake Elsinore its right “slice of the pie.”

In other business, the council authorized the city manager to execute an $888,000 contract and a 10 percent contingency fee with DMC Enterprises to build check-in and kiosk buildings at the planned Laguna RV Resort and Campground. The kiosks and check-in buildings are one part of the city’s planned $67.7 million resort upgrade. Three restroom units for the project were scheduled to come for installation.

In a second action regarding the RV resort and campground, the council authorized a $558,925 contract with Maples and Associates for the design and building of a swimming pool at the resort with a $55,925 contingency amount for “uncertainties and adjustments.”

The 30-foot by 60-foot leisure pool, ranging from 3 and one-half feet to 9 feet in depth, will include a pool for children and special needs individuals with an 18 foot diameter, a 100 square foot span, Cool Crete decking with deck drainage, gas heater optional solar heater, chlorinator filter with optional salt water filter, underwater lights and deck lights and a stainless steel handrail and ladder.

Manos questioned why the check-in and kiosk buildings cost so much, and said, “I could build three houses for that money.” City Manager Grant Yates said the building would be built to residential standards, which are very expensive, and noted that the electrical panels for the structure and amenities cost nearly $250,000 alone.

With that the two items were authorized in 5-0 votes.

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