Higher impact fees for Chatham County residents?

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Rebekah L. Cowell reports for the Indy on possible new impact fees for Chatham County residents:

A big house with a lot of bedrooms could cost Chatham County residents extra money in impact fees.

Last night, Chatham County residents discussed possible increased impact fees and their economic ramifications for new homeowners or homeowners adding onto their houses.

Currently, every homeowner pays the county a one-time impact fee of $3,500. The money is earmarked for school construction.

However, if impact fees become based on the number of bedrooms in a home—the current option being discussed—the costs could increase significantly. The fee also would include additions and improvements made to an existing home.

A three-bedroom home would carry an impact fee of $8,000. A four-bedroom home would rack up a $14,000 impact fee.

William Crawford, a Pittsboro mayoral candidate, did not attend last night's meeting, but he says impact fees are really just taxes, and should be avoided unless there is no alternative.

“I'd want to discuss all available options first,” he said.

County Commissioner George Lucier argues that the county needs to find a way to pay for construction of schools. He says there is no immediate need for the impact fees, but one year from now there must be “some mechanism in place to pay our debt.”

Lucier attempted to appease residents by saying that the impact fee hike had not been proposed as the final solution at this point.

Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller, who seeking reelection for a third-term, did not attend the meeting. He told the Indy that “The commissioners are moving forward on the impact discussion, because they have had studies done that show the fees we already have are too low to actually cover the costs of our schools.”

Voller added that the Homebuilder's Association, National Association of Realtors, political leadership and citizens need to come together and discuss ways to create a “collaborative rational process” to fund long term investments like good schools.

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