Local News

Paying for Schools Could Make an 'Impact' in Chatham County

Posted May 16, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Chatham County is considering an alternative way to pay for new schools, impact fees.

Some residents say they support impact fees as a way to partially pay for about $30 million in new school construction.

Others say impact fees are not the answer, and they are telling county commissioners to look for another way.

Construction of new homes inChatham Countyis creating a need for more schools. An impact fee would put the burden of building those schools squarely on the shoulders of new homeowners.

Developer Randy Voller says an impact fee is not the solution.

"It's a good idea for the schools, but it is going to have a negative impact on prices for homes that are for first-time home buyers as well as for people who are looking for an affordable home," said Voller.

Realtor Mike Trainer is selling homes in the Chatham Forest development. He says tacking a $2,500 charge onto a $130,000 house could prevent some home buyers from qualifying.

"In the $130 price range, that first home buyer, we have to be really careful how we can get them qualified, and $2,500 can affect first time buyers," said Trainer.

The impact fee would not apply to existing homes. The fee would cost $2,500 regardless of size or price of a new home.

Even commissioners agree that does not sound fair.

"If you buy a small, 1,200 square foot house at a dollar a square foot, you pay a $1,200 fee. If you buy a 6,000 square foot house, I would hope you could pay the tax," said Commission Chairman Rick Givens.

Chatham County commissioners are also considering an impact tax. That would be a graduated tax based on the value of a home.