Impact fees are being discussed again in Jefferson County. The pressure is on to eliminate or greatly reduce them. Here is what the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County wants you to know:
Impact fees are funds paid by anyone who builds a new home in Jefferson County. The purpose of the fee is to cover the cost of public facilities that will be used by the homeowners that are moving in. The fees must be paid to the county before a building permit will be issued. The amount is carefully calculated using the actual county expenditures for services that the county currently provides its citizens. Those fees are then extended incrementally for one more new house or one more business to all development in the county. The impact fee is a one-time payment and not a tax.
Impact fees provide support for Jefferson County’s population growth. The money goes to schools to educate new students, emergency services to enable police, fire and medical protection to serve the newcomers, and for parks. Other communities also impose fees for environmental impacts like stormwater management, municipal services like sewer and water, or public facilities like libraries or public meeting places. Jefferson County does not. Fees are charged for development only to the degree that the newcomers will use the service. For example, new homes mean that schools for children moving in will be needed, but businesses do not add to school populations, so new business development is not charged school impact fees. The fees are calculated for each type of housing or business based on the existing level of service for the new development. Without impact fees in the county, existing residents would have to be taxed to cover these capital costs.
Today, impact fees imposed on development are $13,070 for a single family home.
Fees are calculated for different housing types. They pay for schools, fire departments, emergency medical services, parks, and law enforcement. Fees collected in the last five years (2006 through 2012) total $19,844,068. This includes $18,669,718 for new school construction in Jefferson County. In addition, the school impact fee monies have been used to obtain state matching funds from the School Building Authority in the amount of $40,821,361. If these funds had not been collected, there would have been an additional taxpayer obligation to upgrade the schools. The school system would have had to request a bond.
The League of Women Voters supports the continuation of impact fees because it permits growth without reduction in the quality of life for our community. Impact fees insure that development pays for itself. We hope you agree and will make your voice heard before a vote o the issue takes place. League will continue to monitor the County Commission agenda to see when the vote is scheduled.
For more information and a breakdown of costs, please visit the League of Women Voters website at www.civicwomen.org
President of the League of Women Voters Of Jefferson County