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County considers increasing impact fees
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An increase in the fees that help offset the costs of capital improvements and services in Dawson County is under consideration by the board of commissioners.

The board could vote Thursday to begin the process of updating the county's impact fee schedule and amending its current ordinance.

The services that benefit from the impact fees, which are charged to new developments, include fire protection, the county jail, parks and recreation, library materials and roads improvements.

The county has collected $1,651,000 since the fees were enacted in 2006.

Bill Ross of Ross & Associates presented a proposal at the board's May 18 voting session to help the county update its fee schedule and ordinance, a process that Ross said should take around 6 months.

Ross said that because of inflation, the county has been collecting 70 cents per every dollar of fees in 2017 dollars.

"Ultimately the report ends up calculating what the maximum impact fees could be," Ross said. "We're not proposing to you the maximums, but the law says you can't charge new development more than their fair share. The question is, what's their fair share?"

The proposal states that the amount his team would charge the county to study and present the impact fee update would not exceed $47,250.

Also included in the proposal is a plan and projected cost to update to the county's comprehensive plan.

The update could take up to 16 months, and in his proposal Ross recommended the county begin the process no later than the beginning of July.

The plan must be ready to submit to the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission and to the state Department of Community Affairs by August 2018.

The cost of the comprehensive plan five-year update would not exceed $54,600, and according to Ross could be arranged so that the county is not billed for the work until the next fiscal year.

This would not be the first time the county has amended its impact fee ordinance.

The commission voted in May 2009 to suspend impact fees for one year. Developers had a 12-month window to submit applications and begin construction, and then another year to finish the projects before the fees kicked in.

The decision brought several businesses to Dawson that previously voiced that the fees kept them from considering the county, including Krystal, the Varsity Jr. and RaceTrac.