The future of impact fees in Jefferson County will be decided soon by the County Commission. Here is what the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County wants you to know. Impact fees are funds paid by builders to Jefferson County for the purpose of providing 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 rigorously 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.
The 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. Many communities also impose fees for environmental impacts, libraries, sewer, water, runoff drainage or public facilities like 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 need schools, 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 single family home. Fees are calculated for different housing types. Fees collected in the last five years (2006 through 2012) total $25,173,678. The amount of $23,999,328 was used for new school construction in Jefferson County. If these funds were not collected from the new development in the county, there would have been an additional obligation to the July, 2011, estimated population of Jefferson County of $464.24 for each person to retain our current quality of county services or additional charges of $1,391.35. Each of the 18,093 single family homes in Jefferson County in 2011would have had to contribute an additional $1,391.35 to retain the current quality of services.
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 will make your voice heard before the Commissioners vote.
For more information and a breakdown of costs visit the Jefferson County Commission Office of Impact Fees.
The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization that works to encourage informed and active participation in the democratic process through voter registration and education and the promotion of fair, open, and accessible government.
Learn more, Get involved, visit lwv-jcwv.org.