Carroll County's commissioners have paid for three different studies on impact fees -- the charges levied on developers to cover the cost of new schools, roads and public parks. The studies, which cost $119,800, were supposed to create an acceptable formula for setting these fees. The commissioners weren't totally happy with the findings of the first two studies, and they are not likely to be satisfied with the latest, either.
The most recent study recommended changing the entire structure of the fee system. Developers have to pay an impact fee of $2,700 for each newly-constructed residential unit. (In South Carroll there is an additional fee of $800 to cover the cost of the proposed Gillis Mills Reservoir.) The study recommends increasing fees on single-family dwellings and town houses and reducing them on mobile homes and rental apartments.
These recommendations rationalize the fee structure. The study tacitly acknowledges the fees are passed on to the homebuyers, and that they place the heaviest burden on people buying low- and moderate-income housing. The study also suggests dividing the county into different zones to ensure fees collected in one area are spent there.