Commission move on impact fees reckless at best
Spending more than $60,000 of taxpayer money for a study on impact fees and then basically throwing out the information collected in a random act gives little room for faith in the actions of our local government.
The move by three commissioners Thursday to select “arbitrary and capricious” numbers to quote Commissioner Dale Manuel, will do much more harm than good.
Let me say that I am not a fan of impact fees. I have never been a fan of them. I believe they were initiated to control or inhibit growth when they were instituted. I agreed, personally, with the premise that the fees were entirely too high and should be reduced to encourage people to build here.
With that said, they have been collected and have done some undeniable good in our community. They will continue to benefit the areas for which they are collected.
But the random throwing out of numbers by Commissioner Pellish after a study was completed with hours of input from all parties shows reckless behavior that will hurt each of the areas receiving impact fees. It potentially will hurt the county as a whole as the move could be legally challenged.
On top of choosing random numbers, the commission also refused to allow the affected parties to speak to the issue saying there has been plenty of time for comment. Commissioner Manuel once again hit the nail on the head saying that the proposed numbers from Mr. Pellish had received absolutely no comment.
These fees, collected over the past several years, have provided the school system with additional buildings and other capital projects. The funds have been used to levy state funding where otherwise, our county would have been turned down.
The fees have purchased or helped purchase new police and rescue vehicles, buildings and improve parks in the county. These three areas (police, fire/EMS and parks) have been targets of the county in budget cuts over the past years and may yet be cut again this year. Add into that the cuts in impact fees and we not only cannot provide a level of service to new residents; we can’t maintain what we have for current residents.
The cry that businesses don’t come to Jefferson and homeowners are coming to increase the tax base is not only based on an impact fee. Those very same people and companies are seeking excellent schools, safety in fire and police and amenities for recreation such as parks. The excessive cut of the impact fees, which have no legal basis as do the proposed cuts presented by the consultant, will do little to bring business and individuals to this area. They will continue to go elsewhere when the education system, safety and amenities don’t measure up.