Local News

Raleigh Officials, Homebuilders Debate Proposed Impact Fee Increases

Posted April 7, 2006

— As the dirt keeps moving, some city leaders say building fees have to move up. That would mean developers pay more to build a house to help pay for more roads and parks.

Mayor Charles Meeker says Raleigh spends about $25 million a year on projects to keep up with growth. He says the city gets about $4-$5 million back from impact fees. In a public hearing earlier this week, developers like Tom Anhut spoke out against an impact fee increase.

"Why are we taxing our own citizens again?" said Anhut.

Ahnut works for Toll Brothers, the company developing Brier Creek Country Club. According to public financial reports, Toll Brothers made more than $1.3 billion last year. That averages to about a $150,000 profit per house before taxes.

"The housing prices are way up," said Meeker. "The margins, we understand, are very good, at least with the publicly-filed companies, so I have every reason to think that another thousand or two wouldn't materially alter the very successful companies we have here in the Triangle."

"It does concern me when city leaders say that, when they're not looking at the big picture, in terms of what the building industry brings to the economy," said Raleigh/Wake County Homebuilders Association spokesman Tim Minton. "What a company makes or doesn't make is really irrelevant when you're talking about impact fees."

Minton says paying another $1,000 or more per house will add up -- a cost passed on to customers.

"When you start looking at increased prices, that means someone out there will not be able to afford a home," he said.

"If homebuilders could pass all these costs on, they'd be far less concerned," said Meeker. "In fact, what happens is housing prices are set on what people are willing to pay."

Both sides plan to keep pushing the issue, until it comes to a vote. The City Planning Commission is reviewing the proposed increase. It could come up for vote as early as next month.


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