About 33 cities and counties across Georgia levy impact fees for infrastructure needs. New growth should pay its share for the infrastructure needs - stormwater, transportation, recreation, public safety, etc. Elected officials should not settle for anything less than the national/state average for impact fees.
Builders and their associations have been trying to convince all of us at least for three years or more that growth pays for itself. Actually, they have been very good in presenting "data" again and again to convince all of us that impact fees are not needed, just like the tobacco industry years ago tried to convince all of us that smoking is not harmful or habit-forming. Unfortunately until recently, some of our elected officials have agreed with builders' plea/claim.
Last year, the public at large voted for a bond referendum to clean up the problems created by poorly planned/uncontrolled growth - Petersburg pond, Mullins pond, Bowen pond, to name a few. If we fail to enact meaningful impact fees, all of us will again be paying for the new growth down the road.
Now that some of our elected officials are leaning toward impact fees, anything less than state average would be unsatisfactory. Had our elected officials enacted impact fees three years ago, part of the cost for Evans town center, Blanchard Woods Park, along with storm water management, transportation and public safety could have been paid from this revenue source (about $12 million). Who knows? Maybe even our bond ratings would have been better!
"Impact fees are a practical and valuable tool for financing local infrastructure needs. Without them, growing communities may not sustain growth" (www.brooking.edu). We must preserve the quality of life that attracted all of us to Columbia County. Meaningful impact fees are needed to maintain quality of life and to sustain growth.
Mike Moosariparambil, Martinez
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