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Ripon Fires new station fees in limbo
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The Ripon Consolidated Fire District recently broke ground on the $1.82 million station in northeast Ripon.

District officials are still playing the waiting game on their waiver request to the City of Ripon on the Development Impact Fees.

At last Tuesday’s meeting the Ripon City Council opted to direct staff to look again into the ordinance, in particular, as in how granting a mutual or full waiver to the fire district might set precedent for another agency.

“It’s a slippery slope – I would like to know the conditions of the ordinance,” Councilman Leo Zuber said.

He added: “I’d rather start now and do it right.”

City Attorney Thomas Terpstra is scheduled to bring the revised ordinance back for approval at an upcoming meeting. “Every public agency is different,” he said.

The fire district was established in 1921. “We were established before the city,” fire Chief Dennis Bitters said.

Construction on the fire station, which, Bitters pointed out, is an infrastructure rather than a growth project for the city.

“We’re only building there it because of growth,” he said. “What we’re hoping to do is trade tax dollars for tax dollars.”

In 2006, Bitters took it upon himself to grant a waiver to the City of Ripon for construction of the current city hall. “It was the right thing to do,” he said.

The 6,000-square-foot plan at River Road and West Ripon Road was made possible in part by old Redevelopment Agency money.

In this case, the Development Impact Fees amount to about $77,700, covering projects for local facilities fees (water, parks, library, garbage, etc.), building and engineering fees (building permit, building plan checks, and engineering), and other fees (school, fire, count facilities, and habitant mitigation).

Council also looked at a revised amount or partial waiver, tallying $54,045 for local impact fees, building and engineering fees, and other fees.

Either way, a revision or amendment to the fee ordinance is necessary, Terpstra said.

Bitters noted that construction on the fire station is on target to finish ahead of the current 240-day projected schedule.

“It’s been frustrating because the city keeps kicking (the fee waiver request) back and forth,” he said.

Council voted 3-2 on the revising the amendment fee ordinance. Vice Mayor Elden ‘Red’ Nutt and Councilman Dean Uecker provided the no votes.

“I’m in favor of waiving the entire fees because (the fire station) benefits the City of Ripon,” said Nutt.