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County revisits impact fee structure

POSTED: February 25, 2009 4:00 a.m.

A representative from the Krystal Corporation told commissioners Monday that high impact fees may keep the southern regional chain from opening a restaurant in Dawson County.

  

The announcement came during a public comment portion of a special work session the commission called to address the possibility of changing the impact fee structure.

  

Impact fees are fees collected by the county from new developments that are used to pay for a portion of the capital improvements required because of the impact of new developments.

  

The fees are used to construct and operate public facilities that could include fire stations, public safety facilities for the sheriff and emergency services departments, parks and libraries.

  

Since the fees were enacted in July 2006, the county has collected more than $1.5 million to offset the cost of many capital improvement projects.

  

The county has also seen a number of businesses, like the Krystal Corporation, choose other counties to locate their operations due to the fees, which are higher than in surrounding counties.

  

James Throckmorton, an associate real estate representative from Chattanooga, said the Krystal Corporation was originally told their impact fee would cost $14 per square foot, not the $35 per square foot they are being told now.

  

The impact fee, coupled with the tap fee for Etowah Water and Sewer Authority, would cost the company 25 percent of the site development and construction cost. “If it stays at $35 per square foot, it’ll kill the deal,” he said.

  

Lesleigh Batchelor, of Racetrack Petroleum, said the fuel giant has looked at Dawson County for several years, but has shied away when other areas did not require impact fees.

  

“Of those areas, sales generated $550,000 in gas taxes that could have gone here,” she said.

  

But it’s not just the retail and restaurant businesses that oppose the fees.

  

Deron Hicks, lead council for the Homebuilders Association of Georgia, encouraged the board to readdress the fees, saying home builders lost $10.7 billion in income between 2006 and 2008, as a result of the downturn in the economy.

  

Dawson County resident Mike Winson said he supported impact fees. “It’s not the responsibility of the citizens to bail out the home builders,” he said.

  

The commission discussed several options brought forth by county staff, including changing the time when the impact fee would be paid, revisiting improvements to roads and recouping the law enforcement center fee.

  

Dawson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Berg said he was entirely against refunding previously charged fees, which was one suggestion.

  

County staff will report back to the board in approximately 30 days with the requested information.

  

E-mail Michele Hester at michele@dawsonnews.com.

 

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