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The City Journals

West Jordan to fulfill long-standing financial obligations to developers

Sep 07, 2021 04:20PM ● By Erin Dixon

West Jordan leaders agreed to reimburse some developers for improvements made to infrastructure. (photo/West Jordan City)

By Erin Dixon| [email protected]

West Jordan officials have some promises to fulfill. During construction of new buildings, sometimes new infrastructure is needed, such as sewer pipes and power lines. Sometimes it is city crews that will make these improvements; sometimes it will be the developer. 

City leaders agreed to pay back some of the developers who made the improvements. Some have been waiting for that check since 2015 for a reimbursement. 

West Jordan Finance Director Danyce Steck explained the debts to the city council. 

“When a developer has upsized for us or made an improvement to their infrastructure outside, what they’re required to do for their development, the city agreed to reimburse them for the cost,” Steck said. “The agreement also says that they’ll stay on that queue until we feel like we have the money to reimburse them. There are some that have been on that queue since 2015.”

City officials will get the money to pay these agreements from impact fees collected from other construction. 

Steck made clear that paying back the developers is not going to be easy. 

“To be clear and transparent to you, our water fund is in the negative,” she said. “However, we have made obligations with these developers. I feel it is our obligation to give them that money. I’ve never seen a reimbursement queue that’s longer than a year or two, because developers are out that money.”

Councilmember David Pack questioned the feasibility. “Our impact fee budget, how short are we?” he asked.

“About [negative] $2.1 million in the water fund,” Steck said. “We continue to have to build a storage tank ahead of development, but it takes five to 10 years for us to recover all of that upfront.”

Councilmember Kevin Green expressed concern that the debt problem is unsolvable.  

“It almost seems like we’re never going to catch up,” he said. “We can’t use impact fees to pay for something ongoing because we’re already in the hole for something else.”

So how will these debts be paid if the city fund is in the negative?

“With reserves from the [water] utility fund,” Steck said.