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Impact fee changes on hold as Forsyth County awaits more figures

FORSYTH COUNTY — It appears the months-long discussion of revising Forsyth County’s impact fee structure will stretch further into the year.

During a recent work session, county commissioners and officials discussed the current situation. While there has been much talk about adding an impact fee for roads, recent state legislation ensuring more funding for transportation projects has further complicated the issue.

“I believe the second public hearing we had with respect to impact fees was in December. I think at the time we told you that we were still receiving input … particularly with funding from the state DOT,” said County Attorney Ken Jarrard. “That has been ongoing ever since.”

Impact fees are charges for new development that help cover the cost of increased demand on roads, infrastructure, services and amenities.

Forsyth currently levies impact fees for parks, libraries and fire/E911 service. They are collected on a countywide basis for parks and E-911 and on a north-south split for libraries and fire services.

Jarrard said he had expected after December’s public hearing that the county would have had all of its numbers, which were changed by the legislation, and held other meetings before the commission’s Feb. 4 meeting.

Instead, Jarrard said, officials won’t be ready to revisit the matter next week, as information is still coming in.

“I believe [Dave Gruen, the county’s chief financial officer] has been receiving numbers as late as this week, where he feels like he has a good handle and that information went down to our consultant in raw form,” he said.

When calculating impact fees both past and anticipated future funding needs are considered, according to Jarrard. That includes House Bill 170, which passed the Georgia Legislature last year and guarantees state funds for some local roads projects.

He added that the county wants to ensure it is getting updated information that includes HB 170 and “some of the other things that … have come up since late-October, when [commissioners] heard the consultant talk.”

Clancy Mullen of Duncan Associates was hired by the county to conduct the study. Jarrard did not know when the study would be back, noting that the commission will discuss it before the issue heads to another public hearing.

Impact fees were the subject of several meetings last year.

The county assembled a committee to study the fees, and the proposed road levy was one of the most contentious issues. Supporters feel it would help improve roads, while opponents feel it would drive away development.

Other recommendations by the committee were combining fire and E-911 levies into a public safety fee, changing library and public safety fees from a north-south divide to countywide and using both active and passive parks as part of park impact fees level of service.

The group also suggested changing the methodology behind the fees from residential property by changing single-family detached and multi-family from a per foot basis to per unit, and for mobile home parks to go from per foot to per space.