Putting a hot potato to rest Carroll County:Outgoing commissioners were right to deal with contentious impact fee increase.

November 20, 1998

RAISING IMPACT fees for home construction is a prudent and timely action by Carroll County's lame-duck commissioners. The moderate fee increases are needed, and the action may protect the new board from having to handle this political hot potato.

The fee increases, the first in three years, range from 6 to 8 percent for all but mobile homes. For a single-family home, the increase will be $257, rising to $4,744 -- nowhere near enough to fulfill the dire warnings of the homebuilder industry.

The fee hike won't raise a lot more money for schools and roads and such. But the decision underlines the county's commitment to the Concurrency Management Ordinance approved this year, which limits approval of new housing to availability of adequate public facilities.

New housing means more residents, and the need for more public services, which is the impetus of the ordinance. (Current residents who buy a new home free up more housing for newcomers.) So new development must pay for expanded services; the ordinance caps growth over six years to 6,000 units.

The new trio of commissioners taking office next month seems to oppose higher impact fees. They could vote to rescind the increases. But once in office, with the blame cast on the previous board, it's a fair bet that the new commissioners will count their (revenue) blessings and let the changes stand.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell, re-elected to the new board, made political hay by blasting the decision of his two outgoing colleagues to raise the fees. Richard T. Yates, defeated for re-election, voted for the higher fees, after four years of opposition to any tax or fee increase.

The new fee schedule was proposed by the county staff. Let the incoming commissioners focus on more weighty matters facing Carroll County into the 21st century.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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