Horry County Council unanimously votes in favor of implementing impact fees
HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – After years of studies, discussions and votes, impact fees will finally be implemented in Horry County.
Horry County Council unanimously passed the third and final reading on an impact fee ordinance, but with some amendments to what the money can be spent on.
The impact fees will be levied on both new residential and retail construction. A developer will pay the one-time impact fee, but then it will likely be passed down to the homeowner or business owner.
“If your brother, your sister, your mom and daddy decide to build a new house, they’re paying these,” explained Councilman Danny Hardee. “This is not a developer thing. I want people to understand this is for everybody.
The fees are calculated and classified for particular service areas of infrastructure: transportation, public safety, parks and recreation, solid waste and stormwater.
The county council has been in favor of the fees for years, but the extent of the fees is where some were divided.
Some felt a lower rate should be implemented first so that new businesses won’t be deterred from building new stores in the county.
“We needed to start small and then we can go from there, instead of thrusting the entire rate we could on future small businesses, the backbone of the unincorporated area,” said Councilman Cam Crawford.
But other leaders, like Chairman Johnny Gardner, felt the county should enact the highest possible impact fee they legally could.
“I think we should do the full measure of what the study recommended,” Gardner said.
According to the study, the highest impact fee rate would have provided money for improvements in parks and recreation, public safety, transportation, waste management and stormwater with a projected $260 million in 10 years.
Assistant Administrator Barry Spivey explained that the highest impact fee rate would mean an extra $4,838 for a single-family home and $7,438 per 1,000 square feet for a retail business.
But Horry County Council voted to amend the ordinance so that impact fees would just pay for police, fire, EMS, the Emergency Operations Center, solid waste and parks for now. Transportation, recreation centers, stormwater and EMS were excluded from the impact fee ordinance.
Councilmembers said they can add additional impact fees in the future if needed.
The projected income on impact fees on those services for 10 years is about $55 million, according to Spivey.
But the money can only be spent on capital improvements. For example, it can fund a police station, but the money can’t go toward paying for more police officers.
Some had asked for the impact fees to be spent on transportation and help with roads in the area. But councilmembers said that there are other pools of money that the county can use to tackle roads. Stormwater was also excluded from the impact fee ordinance due to the fact there is already a stormwater fee in place.
The impact fees will go into effect in 90 days.
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