Barrow commissioners divided on fees

WINDER - After hearing the results of a six-month study on how impact fees will affect Barrow County, commissioners are divided on their opinions.

Impact fees are a one-time payment usually paid by the builder, who passes the fee on to the buyer in the buildings' cost.

They can only be used for capital facilities, such as water supply treatment and distribution, wastewater treatment, stormwater collection, roads, streets, bridges, parks, open space, police, fire, emergency rescue facilities and libraries. They cause those financial burdens to be shared by the city, county, homebuyer and business owner.

Impact fees do not fund schools.

"Let's quit dragging our feet," said Pat Cowart, who spoke in favor of the fees.

Commissioner Bill Brown agrees.

"I'm in favor of the impact fees," said Brown. "Citizens won't bear all the expense of new development."

Commissioner Jerry Lampp recommends moving forward with caution, stating he has questions about the fees.

"We would be collecting revenues without public opposition," Lampp said. "I'd like to know what the cost is to collect those fees. With impact fees, we have to commit to a service. If the impact fees don't pay their fair share, then it could create a cost."

County commissioners voted in October to pay Ross and Associates $22,608 for the study that could guide a potential impact fee program.

Commissioners will vote May 22 on whether to implement an impact fee program in Barrow County.

More than 30 city and county governments throughout the state now charge impact fees, including Atlanta, Braselton and Hall County.

In other business, Barrow County Commissioners voted to:

• Appoint Kenny Lumpkin to the Northeast Georgia Arts and Conference Center board.

• Appoint Tara Wiertniak to Keep Barrow Beautiful.