HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Horry County Council is looking for a way to avoid increasing already established property taxes for infrastructure needs.
One route they're looking at taking is through impact fees, according to Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught.
To support the growing county's needs when it comes to new developments, the money has to come from somewhere. Right now, that source is increased taxes. However, the council will vote Tuesday on a resolution to put a question on the November ballot asking the public if they support impact fees for new development to offset the cost of infrastructure and other needs.
Vaught said the council has been researching impact fees for a while now and the restrictions associated with South Carolina law make it difficult to impose them for the things the area needs.
"We're also going to be trying with this referendum with our state legislature to amend the impact fee laws now," he said.
The fees will ultimately be passed down to the person buying a home in a new development.
"When [the developer] sells each home to the individual who buys it, that's when the impact fee would be assessed," Vaught said.
He added that those one-time fees collected from the new homeowners will be used to pay for issues downstream, like drainage and additional roads.
"We're envisioning somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000," he said.
Lawrence Langdale, with the Home Builders Association, said their organization isn't against impact fees, but they are concerned about accountability for where the money goes and how it's spent.
Vaught said the county will be transparent and tell the public how they will use the money.
"It's not going to impose a penalty on the developers. It's just something that is passed on so the people who are benefiting by moving here and building new homes, let them pay for the infrastructure," he said.
Vaught said if the referendum passes a public vote, the county will conduct a study to show the need for impact fees and go on to create an ordinance within the state statute.
"If we had these impact fees, then we wouldn't have to have somebody - let's say in Green Sea -pay an increase in stormwater fees because a development was causing a problem over in Longs," he said.
Council has to decide Tuesday whether or not to hold a vote because Wednesday is the deadline for adding items to the November ballot.
Vaught said the council wants to make sure the public's input is considered.