There is a trend that, if you live here for a few years, becomes pretty easy to spot. An issue or suggestion is presented to a government body, that body thinks about it for a little bit and then kicks the can down the road to decide the issue another day, or in some cases, a few years.
One of those issues is the possibility of the county imposing impact fees on developers. Impact fees are imposed on developers to offset the cost of the public services or infrastructure needed to support new developments.
It is an issue that county commissioners have discussed before, dating back to at least 2016, if not beyond that. In June 2018, The News wrote an editorial that the county should keep an open mind when it comes to impact fees as they were preparing to hear a presentation about how the fees would work locally.
A couple of months ago, the impact fee train began again as the county commission’s finance committee — comprised of chair Allen Booker, David O’Quinn and Bill Brunson — unanimously recommended the county enter into a contract with impact fee consultant Ross Associates in August 2019. According to the contract, Ross would help the county set up and begin imposing impact fees on new developments. It would also look at the feasibility of impact fees on unincorporated parts of the county, and on St. Simons and Sea islands especially.
The county is set to further discuss the impact fees contract at a work session at 2 p.m. today on the second floor of the Harold Pate Building, 1725 Reynolds St., Brunswick.
Unless there is a study that says impact fees will ruin development for years to come in the area, we hope the county considers implementing them. We have heard a lot of gloom and doom talk from the county about the need to shore up infrastructure issues around the county. SPLOST has helped with some of those issues, but there is always a chance that the voters will reject a SPLOST. You need to have a plan to make those improvements should the voters say no.
The proceeds from an impact fee would go toward issues like roads and bridges, stormwater drainage, flood control, bank and shore protection, parks and recreation areas, public safety and other potential uses.
It’s time for the county to stop kicking this can down the road. Unless there is evidence that impact fees will do irreparable damage to the area, commissioners should spend the $76,450 to engage Ross’ services.