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Jefferson County BOE obtains injunction against lower impact fees

By Staff | Mar 9, 2015

The Jefferson County Board of Education has won a temporary restraining order against the Jefferson County Commission enacting new, reduced impact fees on Monday, according to Scott Sudduth, president of the BOE.

“We filed a petition (Friday) and we just received word that we were awarded a temporary restraining order and a hearing was set for March 9, when the commission and we will present our cases,” Sudduth said in a telephone interview Friday.

Circuit Court Judge John Yoder issued the order and set the hearing date.

During a board meeting Thursday evening, members voted unanimously to file an action in circuit court to delay the effective date of the recommended impact fee rates, Sudduth said.

Last week, Jefferson County Commissioners voted 3-2 to lower impact fees on residential properties by 30 percent above reductions recommended by a consultant.

Commissioners Walt Pellish made the motion to reduce the impact fees by 30 percent. Commission President Patsy Noland and Commissioner Eric Bell joined Pellish in voting for the 30 percent reduction.

Commissioners Dale Manuel and Jane Tabb voted no.

The consulting firm of Tischler Bice had studied the county’s impact fees and recommended reducing them based on what the cost of land is to build different schools – elementary, middle and high schools – rather than the current flat-rate land value.

The consultant recommended new impact fees for schools of $8,143 for single-family homes, $9,172 for townhouses and duplexes, and $5,688 for multi-family apartments and condominiums.

The BOE contributed a substantial amount to help pay for the consultant’s study, Sudduth said. Reportedly, the study cost $60,000.

“The commission ignored the study,” he said. “Their decision was precipitous. There wasn’t sufficient notice or time for feedback or to review their action.”

Sudduth told The Journal in an earlier interview that the school system has invested about $100 million in new construction without having to raise taxes on current residents because of the impact fees the schools received. He said about one-third of the $100 million came directly from impact fees.

Sudduth said the school board anticipates building at least one more elementary school and one more middle school over the next three years.

During last Thursday’s commission meeting, Pellish said impact fees had done some very good things in the past.

“I support impact fees, but I think they’re out of whack,” he said. “We need growth in this county, and we’re going to get that by inviting some growth and increasing our tax rolls.”

After the meeting, Manuel said there was no rationale behind the 30 percent reduction.

“… (T)he commission chose an arbitrary and capricious number and completely ignored all the work that has already been done,” he said.