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Horry County Council renews discussion around impact fees to help with infrastructure issues

Council members listened to industry experts, discussed what’s next during impact fee workshop
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 10:40 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County Council held a workshop on Thursday to take another step forward in making impact fees a reality.

Impact fees would apply to any home built after Horry County Council passes them. A developer would pay the one-time impact fee, which is likely passed down to the homebuyer.

Back in 2018, over 72% of Horry County voters told leaders they wanted impact fees. They are meant to offset the cost of infrastructure needed to support new development.

Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner said he believes the majority of the council wants them and that it’s going to pass this year.

“This is for new developments and it’s countywide, and it’s going to help with the infrastructure issues that we have,” said Council Chairman Johnny Gardner.

District 6 Councilman Cam Crawford said he’s concerned that people might expect impact fees to do something that they can’t. They can’t fund maintenance for drainage ditches or hire police officers.

But they can fund capital improvement projects, like road widening and building additional facilities.

“I would ask staff (before we implement this thing) create an educational component that helps the public understand maintenance versus capital expenditures, what the public can reasonably expect from the impact fee,” Crawford said. “Because they’re expecting a lot. And I don’t know that the impact fee is going to fulfill all those expectations.

If no changes were made to the current projections, county staff estimated impact fees could raise over $208 million in a 10-year period.

Councilmembers said the money has to come from somewhere.

”We’re trying to look at other alternatives. Is it taxes we raise? Impact fees? I think it’s impact fees,” said Councilman Bill Howard, District 2. “It’s something that, if we don’t do it, we’re going to get further behind; and we don’t want to get behind.”

County staff will be studying how to reduce the fee for retail, along with the timing of when they could put these fees into place and when they should be paid.

County council will have a second reading on Tuesday, June 15.

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