When we wrote about the possibility of impact fees a month ago, we lamented the way our local government bodies kick the can down the road to decide the issue months or even years later. As county commissioner Peter Murphy noted at Thursday’s commission meeting, this issue has been around a long time.
“We’ve talked about this for four years, we’ve discussed it at least three work sessions, we’ve talked with Mr. (Bill) Ross (president of Ross Associates) at least once if not twice,” Murphy said during the meeting.
The commission finally came around to the idea of impact fees Thursday, voting 5-2 to pay consultant Ross Associates $76,450 to help implement impact fees.
From our viewpoint, this is a good idea for the county. Many in the community, from our local government to everyday citizens, have pointed out some of the infrastructure needs of the county. That is one area that impact fees can help.
State law mandates that proceeds from an impact fee go towards roads and bridges, stormwater drainage, flood control, bank and shore protection, parks, recreation areas and related facilities, public safety facilities and libraries, among other things. These are all areas, judging from the SPLOST list of 2016 and the one shaping up for 2020, that Glynn County could use some help.
With that said, we do share some of commission Wayne Neal’s concerns about impact fees being so high, it scares away potential developers. That’s why it is important to pay Ross Associates to study the issue and come back with a proposal for what the impact fees should be in the area.
To blindly start handing out impact fees without any evidence as to what is right or fair would be dumb. Ross is experienced in this matter, with Community Development Director Pamela Thompson calling the firm’s founder Bill Ross the “Godfather of impact fees.”
We feel confident that they can find a number that will not only help our area fight some of the infrastructure issues we are dealing with, but also won’t adversely affect development.
There is a tightrope to walk here, but the bottom line is taxpayers should not be forced to shoulder the burden of development on their own.
We hope that developers understand that, and don’t shy away from paying what we hope will be fair impact fees.