We have been asked recently to remind municipalities about the deadlines by which impact fees must be used or returned to the present owner of the property. The law, Wis. Stat. § 66.0617(9), has a relatively complicated set of deadlines, which are based on when the impact fees were collected.
- For any unspent impact fees collected before January 1, 2003, you have already missed the deadline of December 31, 2012. Any unspent fees must be returned to the present property owner.
- Impact fees collected after December 31, 2002, and before April 11, 2006, must be used not later than the first day of the 120th month beginning after the date on which the fee was collected. Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 66.0617(9)(c)2, those impact fees are on a rolling ten-year deadline. For example, if an impact fee was collected in January of 2006, its deadline would be February 1, 2016. 2016 will be the last year for impact fees collected under this provision.
- Impact fees collected after April 10, 2006, and collected within seven years of the effective date of the ordinance imposing the fees must be used within ten years after the effective date of the ordinance. The ten-year limit may be extended for three years if the municipality passes a resolution that includes detailed written findings specifying the extenuating circumstances or hardship supporting the need for the extension.
- Impact fees collected after April 10, 2006, and collected more than seven years after the effective date of the ordinance imposing the fees must be used within a reasonable period of time after collected. Reasonable is not defined in the statute – “reasonable” will vary depending on the circumstances. A reasonable time to build a water tower will almost certainly be considerably longer than a reasonable time to install playground equipment in a park. These determinations will have to be made on a case-by-case basis (unless the law changes).
Again, this is a complicated set of deadlines, and the circumstances will vary case-by-case. If you have any questions regarding these deadlines, you should contact your municipal attorney.