On the same night the Galt City Council honored two longtime businesses with a combined 100 years of operation in the city, Aman Sandhu waited as his hopes of opening a new hotel in his hometown fluttered with every word of the council, and were eventually put on hold.
"It's been a longtime dream of ours to do a development right here in Galt, the city we live in," said Sandhu, wearing a black suit and gold colored tie and dress shirt, speaking before the council.
"The impact fee right now is not supporting the project financially."
That fee is $1.28 million. It's the city's calculation of what Sandhu's proposed 69-room Holiday Inn Express should pay for its share of government services. Those include its draw on public safety, water and sewer, plus the city roads that will need to be widened to accommodate the development.
Sandhu and his team of advisors contend the city's fee is roughly twice what other nearby cities have charged for similar projects.
Councilwoman Barbara Payne asked the council to discuss the matter at the meeting.
A majority of council members, however, decided they need more time to study the fee before taking any action, and requested city staff to draft a report on how they came up with their figures.
Several emphasized they're not interested in reducing fees haphazardly, but only if it's truly warranted.
The developers feel it is.
"When fees are truly arbitrary, that's when you get the most push-back on them," said Bruce Monighan, the Sacramento-based architect for the project, told the council, adding that business people have a "tendency to move on," when fees are exorbitant.
Paul Sandhu, Aman's father and business partner, said moving on could be an option.
- The Galt City Council honored Spaans Cookie Company and C & J Guthmiller Automotive Repair on Tuesday night each for serving 50 years in Galt. The companies plan a "cookies and cars" celebration April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Galt Councilman Tim Raboy was expected to detail plans for a
possible toilet replacement program, in which the city would help
residents replace older, less efficient toilets. Raboy had not
discussed the idea by the News-Sentinel's deadline.
"If the fee is too high, I might reconsider to take the project somewhere else," he said, outside council chambers.
John Anderson, a representative for Diede Construction's proposed 100-room Fairfield Inn and Suites, sat in the audience Tuesday night, often shaking his head over the city's fee calculations. He, like the Sandhus, maintains the city's fee for his project - $1.6 million - could also be crippling. He did not address the council at the meeting.
Monighan presented a barrage of numbers Tuesday night to make his client's case.
He focused on the traffic and sewer portions of the $1.3 million fee, which account for more than $1 million of the fee.
He said those particular calculations were flawed, arguing that the hotel won't have nearly the drain on city roadways and its sewer system that city staff project.
While they did not concede to any of the developer's requests for a fee reduction Tuesday night, several council members said perhaps the city should create a fee schedule specifically for hotels.
There is no such schedule now. Instead, city planners and public works staff use fees assessed on homes and retail businesses to calculate fees for hotels.
A review of the city's hotel fees will be scheduled for a future council meeting.