In an effort to attract new business and stimulate job growth, Milford City Council voted to reinstate impact fee waivers for new commercial construction within city limits.

In an effort to attract new business and stimulate job growth, Milford City Council voted to approve impact fee waivers for new commercial construction within city limits.

City Council voted unanimously to pass three ordinances that will allow the city manager discretion to waive electric, sewer and water impact fees for new commercial construction. The council also approved a new application for businesses to apply for the economic incentive waivers.

“It’s another added incentive,” explained Councilman Doug Morrow, Sr. “The other towns we’re competing with, Seaford, Dover, Rehoboth, they have some sort of incentive package that includes waivers of fees and such, so this was needed.”

The purpose of waiving the fees has been discussed by the city manager and council members throughout the last couple months with the idea that waiving fees will not only demonstrate to interested companies that Milford is business-friendly, but also offers a reward for creating local jobs.

In order to qualify for the impact fee waivers, commercial businesses must create five or more jobs that will last at least three years. For every five to nine full-time employees hired within city limits, the city manager will now have the ability to waive one EDU (Equivalent Dwelling Unit) for a qualifying business that submits an economic incentive application. A business may apply for impact fee waivers in increments of five jobs created, allowing the city to waive up to five EDUs for 25 or more jobs created by a new business.

If eligible, a business can apply for a waiver of sewer, electric and water impact fee waivers, meaning the business could earn a total of two EDUs and one Electric Service Unit (ESU) for every five to nine jobs created. That could translate to a savings of $1,283 for one sewer EDU waiver, $2,428 for one water EDU waiver and anywhere from $1,200 to $11,000 for one ESU waiver, depending on the wattage of needed electric service, according to Milford Deputy City Clerk Christine Crouch.

The application required by businesses to receive these impact fee waivers requires employers to specify how many employees will be newly hired in the first, second and third years of business. The application also requires the employer to regularly report regarding the status of these employees to verify eligibility for any granted utility fee waivers.

“It’s tied in with jobs and that’s good,” Morrow said. “There’s also a form to account for that and document so that we can follow up with these new businesses.”

During a discussion of impact fee waivers during the Feb. 10 regular City Council meeting, City Manager Richard Carmean said that waiving impact fees is a relatively new program for the city, a practice the municipal government has been participating in for about three or four years.

However, those waivers have not been in place since December 2013, and Carmean told council members during the Feb. 10 meeting that potential businesses often inquire about incentives, like impact fee waivers, that might be offered by the city.

Specifically, Carmean shared the example of Chick-Fil-A, a company that is hoping to build a new store in Milford by 2015 at the latest, according to Chick-Fil-A spokeswoman Brenda Morrow. The new restaurant could create 75 or more jobs for the area, she said.

In 2013, two or three businesses benefitted from the impact fee waivers, generating 25 to 40 new jobs that will now be tracked to guarantee that those waivers continue to correlate with new jobs for local employees, according to the Feb. 10 City Council meeting minutes.