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Barrow takes step toward implementing impact fees

WINDER - Barrow County developers could be paying impact fees within nine months. County Commissioners voted 5-1 to move forward with implementing impact fees.

District 1 Commissioner Jerry Lampp cast the lone opposing vote. In April, Lampp recommended commissioners exercise caution in moving forward.

"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."

Barrow County will now move into the capital improvement phase of the impact fee process. Commissioners will appoint an impact fee advisory board of five to 10 individuals with at least 40 percent of that board being represented by the development community. After that, costs and methods will be estimated. The second phase of the process will cost Barrow County about $42,000, paid for by general funds budgeted to the planning department.

In October 2006, commissioners voted to pay Ross and Associates consultants $22,608 for an impact fee study, that was completed in April. Those costs could be recouped in one year by collecting impact fees, said Guy Herring, planning director.

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 and 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.

Quarterly financial update

Barrow County has plenty of money in the bank, although revenues are down slightly from 2006, Beth Horacek, Barrow County's finance department director, told commissioners Tuesday.

The general government fund is under budget for the year, except for the tax assessor's office, which is projected to exceed its budget by $35,000. The county holds $7.7 million in general fund reserves, enough to run the county for 2.85 months, according to Horacek.

Park upgrades and

jail spending

Barrow County Commissioners voted to spend $27,925 for fencing and $168,750 for clearing and grading the soccer fields at Victor Lord Park. The county will also pay $17,075 for erosion compliance monitoring at the new criminal justice facility.