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County cuts impact fees by a third

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

People building on Waccamaw Neck no longer have to pay higher fees on new development than those in other parts of Georgetown County.

After the county’s first yearly review of impact fees, which it started charging 13 months ago, County Council members decided this week to do away with separate rates for different areas of the county, establishing a countywide fee instead. The change will take about $2,000 off the cost of building a home on Waccamaw Neck.

The savings will be even more significant for commercial developments, said County Administrator Sel Hemingway.

Though the ordinance that amends the fee has received only one reading, council invoked the pending ordinance doctrine, putting the new rates in effect immediately. The impact fee on a single family residence is now $4,078.

Impact fees help pay for infrastructure that an area will need as a result of growth caused by new development, taking the burden off of existing taxpayers. Residential fees cover growth-related costs for law enforcement, roads, recreation and libraries, while nonresidential fees pay only for law enforcement and transportation projects.

The lower fees are a result of fewer transportation projects that need funding from impact fees, Hemingway said. A number of projects that would have been funded by the fee are being paid for in whole or in part with federal stimulus dollars. Other projects have been delayed or removed from the list.

The new rates will remain in place at least until impact fees are reviewed again next summer. If more projects are added to the list then, county residents would see fees go back up.

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