This is in support of Angela Mathews' letter in the April 16 News-Times, and The News-Times editorial on the same date.
A quick look at the infrastructure demands placed on county government by accelerated residential and commercial development makes impact fees a no-brainer. The primary question should be how to implement them, not whether to do so.
The editorial indicates that the Impact Fee Study Committee (will likely describe) impact fees as "too complicated." I hope this is speculation, not the official position of the committee.
Earlier this year, county government drafted a proposed municipal charter creating a new city and then merging it into a unified city/county government for Columbia County. It took 59 pages and by page 7, most readers' eyes would glaze over.
The document makes municipal government history. It's the first time that a charter has been proposed that creates a new city for the sole purpose of consolidation with a county government. On the other hand, development impact fees have been around for decades. Many cities and counties have good impact fee ordinances that provide revenue to fuel community growth. Surely the same visionary and legal minds that came up with the 2006 Columbia County Consolidation Act can come up with something as common in local government as an impact fee ordinance.
Mathews is correct in pointing out that putting the burden of development on the backs of all residents is an injustice. The burden belongs with those who create the increased need for infrastructure. I suggest that the County Commission come up with a way to implement impact fees first, so that if a tax-increase-based bond referendum is indeed needed on the November ballot, it will take into account revenue from the impact fees. At least the commissioners can then say that they did everything possible to avoid a tax increase.
Simply asking the taxpayers to carry the full burden is either an admission that its just too much trouble or gives the appearance of accommodating developers - again. I suspect that this just won't fly with the voters. It smells of a tax-and-spend mentality. The voting public has been told that it ran those guys out of government years ago.
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