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Study to gauge if impact fees should rise

FORSYTH COUNTY — Impact fees could be rising for developers in Forsyth County.

During a recent work session the county commission voted 5-0 to hire Duncan Associates to perform an impact fee rate study at a cost of $39,750.

“The rate study entails us studying the rates we charge for our current impact fees and see if it needs to be increased or if we charge proper in relationship to other counties statewide,” said Pete Amos, commission chairman. “We just haven’t had an impact fee study, a rate increase, in a long time.”

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

“We are bound by state law what we can and can’t do with impact fees,” Amos said. “We want to … separate impact fees and add some to road projects in the particular area that the impact fees are collected.”

Current impact fees are $0.34 for parks and recreation, $0.06 for library, $0.09 for fire department and $0.02 for emergency/911 per square foot of heated area for residential developments.

Non-residential developments pay fees only for public safety and those depend on the type of business. Per square foot of floor area, retail or commercial must pay 22 cents, while office or business must pay 9 cents and industrial is charged 5 cents.

“One of the things we’re going to look at is should we just have our standard fee,” Amos said. “A lot of it is what is the best bang for our buck. Do impact fees get the best bang for some road improvements or letting a developer improve the road himself and dedicate roads to the county?”

The county hasn’t revised its rate structure since it was introduced over a decade ago, partially due to the lack of development during the recession.

“We implemented them back in 2000,” Amos said. “You have to remember, there wasn’t a lot of building going on between 2007 and 2012, so there wasn’t much need for a rate study.”

During the meeting, the commission also discussed the possibility of splitting some impact fees that are spread countywide by district. Currently, parks and recreation is the lone department that is getting impact fees from the whole county.

“There was talk about, ‘There’s more people in the south or more building going on, was it fair to give it to the north.’ But we had to develop parks,” Amos said. “People from the north, south, east and west all enjoy our parks and we don’t ask where the come from, so it should all be developed equally in my opinion.”

No action was taken on the matter.

“It was just being up for discussion only,” Amos said. “I don’t know, it’s a five-member board, you never can tell what could happen.

“I hate to say north-south. They need to develop those parks in Forsyth County. There’s no north-south split. To me, we’re one county.”