It seems we're not alone.
I don't mean we're being visited by space aliens, though sometimes I wonder. (Speaking of space, here's a neat Halloween costume idea. Dress in surgeon's scrubs and put on a space helmet. When someone asks what you are, say, "I'm a space proctologist. I'm traveling to Uranus.")
No, it appears we're not alone when it comes to living in a high-growth area and trying to figure out how to pay for additional services demanded by the growing population.
Someone passed along a story the other day from the Beaufort (S.C.) Gazette. It seems the county council and school board there are considering implementing an impact fee on new construction.
The part that is most akin to our community, though, is that officials contemplating the fee lamented the fact that, like Georgia, South Carolina doesn't allow impact fees for schools.
It makes you wonder: Who the heck came up with that rule? It seems pretty obvious to me that the biggest "impact" of population growth is, well, more people, and that means more students. So why in the world would both states make it impossible for the growth in those student numbers to be directly tied to funding to help provide classrooms for them?
In any event, Beaufort County is finding a way around it by tying the impact fees - they're proposing a whopping $6,000 per new home, and a $2.50 per square foot charge on commercial construction - to development projects for specific neighborhoods.
In other words, to get appropriate zoning and permits for new subdivisions, the developers would have to agree to imposing the fees. Sounds vaguely illegal to me, but I suppose that's why we have lawyers.
Meanwhile, Columbia County officials who turned down a proposal to fund an impact fee study should soon have an opportunity to do what they promised: To ask the legislature to get their heads out of the seventh planet and change the law to allow impact fees to pay for schools.
The perfect opportunity is coming up at the Chamber of Commerce annual Pre-Legislative Breakfast, set for 7 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27 at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. Around that same time is when county officials also should be meeting with members of the legislative delegation to offer their wish-lists for next year, and that's when they need to start arm-twisting for a change in the law.
The Chamber, which landed Gov. Sonny Perdue for its Post-Legislative Breakfast this past spring, has lured another top state official for the Pre-Legislative Breakfast: House Speaker Glenn Richardson.
Richardson is sure to talk about his plan to replace the state's property taxes with a no-exemptions sales tax - a huge giveaway to big-money landowners masquerading as a populist tax cut. He'll also try to persuade local officials to get comfortable with the idea of giving up control of local tax revenue to the state in return for promises that the state will faithfully send it back. Good luck with that.
Attendance at the breakfast costs $10, and is limited to Chamber members. Call Chris Baum (706-651-0018) for reservations.
Check out Red Oak
Speaking of the chamber, the organization's next after-hours networking event will be held Nov. 12 in Harlem, at Red Oak Manor.
That's the big blue house on the corner of the city's main drag and Hicks Street. Mayor Scott Dean is turning the historic home into a restaurant, bed and breakfast and meeting space.
The city held its Oliver Hardy Festival opening-night reception at the home. It's a beautiful place, with narrow-board pine floors, ornate mantelpieces and high ceilings. It also has some construction quirks common to old buildings that have been added onto a room at a time.
Once finished, it will be a real gem for Harlem.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106.
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