Lippy calls for $2,500 increase in impact fee on new homes

May 20, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Carroll Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said yesterday that the commissioners should increase the county impact fee on some homes by almost $2,500 to raise more revenue.

"The average Joe Citizen" is concerned about the fee, which is levied on new homes, and wants to know why it is not set as high as it could be, he said.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell suggested that the impact fee could be increased and the payments spread over a period of 10 to 15 years on a resident's tax bill instead of requiring that it be paid upfront by the builder.

"Let me make a prediction," Mr. Lippy said during a quarterly meeting with representatives from the Carroll County Chapter of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. "The impact fee is going to play a large part in the discussion in the campaign."

The three commissioner seats are up election this year. Mr. Lippy and Mr. Dell are running again. Commissioner Julia W. Gouge is running for a 5th District House of Delegates seat.

Homebuilders and developers have protested the impact fee since it was instituted in the late 1980s. They pass it along to their customers, raising the cost of housing.

The current impact fee is $2,700 for a single-family home in most parts of the county. The charge is $3,500 in South Carroll because of an $800 fee to pay for the planned Gillis Falls Reservoir.

Impact fees are levied on residential development to pay for expanding such things as schools and parks to accommodate growth.

Comptroller Eugene C. Curfman has recommended that the commissioners raise the fee in fiscal 1995, which begins July 1, and institute a water resource fee that would be paid in all parts of the county.

He recommended that the county raise the impact fee for a single-family home to $4,925. A consulting firm that has studied the issue of impact fees for the county in recent years said the county could charge $5,184.

Mr. Lippy said the fee should be increased to the largest amount the county can justify.

"I will have to be convinced not to raise the impact fee to its maximum," he said. "I'll listen to some exceptional arguments against it, but they will have to be exceptional."

Mr. Lippy said he has received comments from residents who want to see the fee increased.

Yesterday, South Carroll builder Greg Dorsey suggested that the commissioners raise property taxes "just a smidgen" instead of raising the impact fee.

That would spread the burden to all county residents, he said.

Mr. Dell said his suggestion, to allow residents to pay the impact fee over a period of years, would bring revenue to the county that now goes to banks.

Currently, most homebuyers pay the impact fee in their mortgage, which means they are paying interest on the fee, he said. The county could increase the fee to $5,000 but allow residents to pay it over 10 to 15 years without interest, he said.

If a homeowner sold the house before the impact fee was paid, the new owner probably would assume the debt, Mr. Dell said.

Mrs. Gouge did not say whether she would support an increase.

The commissioners and homebuilders also discussed a plan endorsed Tuesday by the county Planning Commission to limit developers to recording 50 lots a year in each subdivision. The plan is meant to slow growth. Currently, 25 lots a quarter, or 100 a year, may be registered.

The commissioners still must approve the plan. Mr. Dell and Mrs. Gouge said they would like to discuss the 50-lot limitation further.

"I'm not sure we should remove every limitation," Mr. Lippy said.

General Services Director J. Michael Evans said limiting the number of lots does not control growth because growth doesn't occur until a person has committed to move into a home. Controlling the number of building permits would be a better way of controlling growth, he said.

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