Jack Screws sworn in to fill Fugate’s unexpired council term

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Impact fees abolished

By Carolyn Ten Broeck

Jack Screws became the newest Williston City Council member Tuesday night when he was appointed to the Group A post.

Screws replaces Norm Fugate, who resigned two weeks ago.

Gail Poupard-Brown, a notary public, administered the oath of office and Screws immediately took his seat on the council.

He will also begin serving his own two-year term in April as the lone qualifying candidate for the position.

“Thank you for you faith in appointing me,” Screws said, adding it was his honor and pleasure to serve the people of Williston.

“Thank you for your confidence,” he told council members. 

In other business, the council voted unanimously to eliminate impact fees on water and sewer capacity for new development.

A moratorium had been in place since March 2012 and was due to expire in two months.

Council had approved the measure in the hope it would stimulate new growth.

However, Adam Hall, city planner, told council members Tuesday night that there had not been much new development in the past year.

Councilman Charles Goodman, an out-spoken opponent of impact fees who became council vice president Tuesday, said he found the impact fees distasteful.

Goodman also said he  believed such fees were unnecessary because new growth would increase the tax base and those taxes would pay for any impact on the utilities.

The vote to eliminate the fees passed unanimously and Goodman went on record saying that a future council could decide at any given time to reinstate them.

He also said he didn’t want revenues from impact fees to be the sole basis for capital improvements.

“Because if there is no growth, there are no fees and the improvements would still have to be made,” Good man said.

 City Manager Scott Lippmann concurred, telling council members such fees are never intended for maintenance of existing utilities, but are designed when those utilities are nearing capacity and improvement must be made for expansion.