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TAA testifies on city fees

Synopsis

The Texas Apartment Association provided invited testimony to a state House committee investigating the impact of city fees.


Key takeaways

  • Texas Apartment Association staff testified last month at a House Urban Affairs Committee hearing in San Antonio on the impact of municipal fees. The committee is studying the issue to make recommendations for the 2023 legislative session.
  • TAA noted that fees can add to the cost of both housing development and operations, ultimately affecting the cost of rent.
  • TAA advocated for improved transparency in the process of adopting fees and ensuring that stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input before fees are adopted or increased.

Texas Apartment Association staff recently provided invited testimony to the House Urban Affairs Committee on the impact city fees and taxes have on housing affordability.

The hearing on April 12 in San Antonio included testimony on an interim study of “… municipal fees with respect to the function of the fee and the relationship of the fee to the cost of providing an associated municipal service.” The committee is also charged with making recommendations on future legislation “… to address municipal fees that are disproportionate or unrelated to the cost of providing the associated service.”

TAA’s Vice President of Government Affairs David Mintz spoke to committee members about how fees can add to the cost of both housing development and operations, ultimately affecting the cost of rent.

While Mintz acknowledged that many city fees and services are necessary to maintain quality of life, he testified about the need to improve transparency in the process for adopting fees and ensure that stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input before fees are adopted or increased. He also raised concerns about “hidden fees” such as waste collection franchise agreements that raise the cost of essential services.

Mintz advocated several ideas for the committee’s consideration including legislation proposed by TAA in the 2017 and 2019 sessions to include details about proposed fee increases on the “cover page” of the city budget, requiring council members to take a separate vote on proposed fee increases, and providing information to the public about proposed fee increases via a city website or through email notifications. In both sessions the legislation passed by overwhelming majorities in the Texas Senate and the House Urban Affairs Committee but the Legislature adjourned before the bill could be considered by the full House.

The Urban Affairs Committee is expected to issue its final report in the fall leading up to the 2023 legislative session.

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