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Top Ten reasons why the BOC needs to rethink changing from a uniform impact fee structure

By Chatham Coalition
Posted Saturday, February 12, 2005

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The Chatham Coalition learned of Bunkey Morgan’s smoke-filled backroom secret impact fee plan just in the nick of time to stop a vote on this item that he purposely left off the Monday, February 7 county commissioner’s meeting agenda. His plan appears to be an attempt to get around a vote on a school bond referendum through the creation of geographic school impact zone that would cost new residents from $4,000 to zero depending on where they reside, regardless of the size of the residence or whether it is a mobile home.

For example, under his plan a young working class couple building a starter home in Pittsboro would pay a $4,000 impact fee and a similar couple who wanted to put a mobile home on a lot in Siler City would pay $2,500, while a well-off couple who built their $500,000 dream home near Goldston would pay nothing. Is that fair? We don’t know, but we doubt it.

This proposal needs further study, public hearings and open door discussion, not closed political deals. Moreover, we feel that the proposal by Commissioner Mike Cross and Patrick Barnes to seek a one percent real estate transfer tax through a local bill of the legislature is clearly a more “fair and balance” approach that all segments of Chatham County can support without reservation.

But, here are our initial thoughts on Bunkey’s impact fee tax scheme.

10. Residential development, no matter where it is built, generates children in our schools.

9. This only divides the county again – East vs West.

8. It hurts the chances of getting the transfer tax approved by the legislature. The transfer tax is a much fairer way to generate the needed money for schools.

7. New, lower income housing may concentrate in the areas of the county with a lower (or no) fee, potentially driving down values.

6. The impact fee is not a good substitute for growth management policies.

5. Affordable housing is becoming more difficult; this only makes it worse.

4. Children in the southwest deserve just as nice a school as children in the northeast.

3. It should not cost $4,000 more for a young working class couple to build their dream home on family owned land near Pittsboro than a couple wanting to do the same thing in the areas of the county with no impact fee.

2. This ties the hands of the Board of Education’s hands when it comes time for them to adjust school boundaries.

And, the number ONE reason for not charging different fees across the county

It just isn’t fair.

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