DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

September 12, 2013

Londonderry plans to update impact fee structure

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — The town’s hopes of making strides in the way it handles impact fees is one step closer to being done.

The Planning Board heard details from town attorney Michael Ramsdell about proposed changes to the impact fee structure.

This all comes after a court-ordered audit looked at Londonderry’s impact fee structure dating back to 1994, covering a total of 18 years, and looking at potential improprieties in the way the town handled its impact fees.

Nashua-based Melanson, Heath and Company performed the audit, completed earlier this summer.

“Court proceedings are still going on with the impact fees and the way they were administered,” Ramsdell said. “We also studied other towns’ ordinances.”

A Rockingham Superior Court judge ruled last December that Londonderry had been “at best, lackadaisical in their handling and documentation of impact fees.”

The ruling came after Londonderry officials requested guidance over how to refund more than $1.2 million in impact fees collected erroneously or not spent within the required six-year time frame.

The audit found many discrepancies, missing records, and other errors for various time frames during the audited period of time.

There were also bank statements missing, including evidence of actual fees being collected, but not deposited, as some old out-of-date checks were discovered.

Some fees were distributed without the proper Town Council order authorization, the audit noted.

The problems dated back many years, Ramsdell said. With the proposed updates and changes to the ordinance, the impact fee program will be handled correctly from now on.

Some changes are in the language of the ordinance, other areas are getting big upgrades and clearer definitions of the fee structure, how fees are collected and more.

Ramsdell said the updated document will be a clearer picture of what the town has learned in the past year when it comes to handling impact fees.

“This will be as good an impact fee document as any in the state of New Hampshire,” he said.