Another county starts looking at education impact fees

I know I've been AWOL for a while on this issue. (Too many things going on, as usual.) But we have yet another county that's starting to take a look at impact fees as a way of covering the spiraling costs of keeping educational construction up to speed with growth. This time, it's Granville county, which sits just north of Durham and Wake counties, home to Creedmoor, Butner, and Oxford, among other small communities. Sprawl, coming largely out of Durham County but also to a degree out of Wake, is putting pressure on their school system, and they're trying to find a way to pay for it.

Folks, I need help on this. I'm not terribly good at organizing -- I've tried, and haven't gotten anywhere. But the problem is that the NC Homebuilders will fight this to their dying breath, and that's more power than any one county has. (Orange and Chatham slipped through school construction impact fees in the '80s, before the Homebuilders had a chance to organize against them.) Or, if one county does muster the power, they might slip that one through, then draw a firewall on the rest. Durham County's legislative delegation tried for 12 years to get permission from the legislature to charge school construction impact fees, and were blocked by the Homebuilders every time. The ONLY way this happens is if there's enough local government and activist pressure on enough legislators that eventually there's too many for the homebuilders to stop.

So far, we've got Durham trying its hardest and failing. The WakeUP Wake County folks are starting to talk impact fees, but haven't gotten the full support of their delegation yet. Johnston (Smithfield and Clayton), just east of Wake, is taking a look too. Now Granville. And these are just counties in the Triangle media area that I can keep up with. I don't know what's going on in the rest of the state. If we can coordinate a multi-county effort that comes from many disparate parts of the state, we can get this thing to critical mass.

It may be that a political compromise becomes necessary down the road. Homebuilders obviously like school construction, but they complain that they don't want to be the only funding source. I say, fine, let's put through school impact fees along with other local option revenue sources, such as a local option gas tax for supporting road construction and public transit. Remember, this isn't imposing a tax directly, it's just giving local governments the option of doing so.

I'm wide open to suggestions here.

Comments

I'd say a full frontal attack

on the NC Homebuilders Association is in order, complete with ridicule, ranting, raving and more.

Let's track their contributions and smack them down. After all, one of their own, Fredly Smith, the Asphalt King, is going to run for Gov with their support and money and paving contracts.

I'll sign up.

I'm not sure I'm ready for that

There aren't many lobbies more powerful than the homebuilders, and they're not afraid to fight dirty.

But good ol' fashioned local politics could carry the day here. No representative wants to vote against funds for local schools. They're more than happy to take a campaign check and vote against someone else's schools, but that doesn't have a direct political consequence.

I'd say that the homebuilders are more afraid of that approach than a PR attack. The PR attack they can spend and lobby their way out of. The direct local appeal, that's much harder.

Fight dirty

They already fight dirty. Calling them out with the bright light of public scrutiny is the only disinfectant I know of.

For my part, powerful lobbies don't mean squat. I'd rather have them distracted by attacks than doing more damage. I'm happy to be the bad cop . . . which will make you seem all the more reasonable!

in the asymetrical warfare of...

...humans against organized lobbying, disclosure seems to be an extremely effective "leveller".

the populist appeal of "we're getting sold out here" cannot be underestimated.

also-you might find this link of considerable interest, both in terms of resources, and a "this wheel's been invented" kind of thing.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Moore County is looking at deed transfer fees.

Moore County is exploring transer fees to support growth as well. A task force met on Friday to begin the discussion. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Two members of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners presented their findings on a land-transfer fee during a Friday morning meeting of the Summit task force on alternative revenue sources.

The next meeting agenda for the Moore County Board of Commissioners may contain an item pertaining to a land-transfer, or deed-transfer, fee, according to board Chairman Colin McKenzie, who attended the meeting.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

can't this be spun...

...as a tax on outsiders coming down to nc and taking school resources away from the longer-term residents?

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

I don't see that as a spin

People who move here have children who need schooling. However, schooling children benefits us all, right? So I'm not sure how I feel about "impact fees" and "transfer fees". I don't own real estate property, so I don't pay property tax (although my landlord does, and presumably, he figures that into my rent.)

Personally, I'd like to see the larger corporations - like Pinehurst,LLC. here in Moore County, which has an abundance of low-income employees, cough up more funding for schools and other infrastructure. They benefit the most from being in places like this. They ought to pay for it.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Don't agree

Personally, I'd like to see the larger corporations - like Pinehurst,LLC. here in Moore County, which has an abundance of low-income employees, cough up more funding for schools and other infrastructure.

Additional costs of doing business are ultimately borne by the consumer and the employee through higher prices and lower pay. If it costs Pinehurst more to employ someone, the worker gets paid less.

Also, Pinehurst and FirstHealth are the largest two employers in the county. After that, the number of employees drops off a lot. Any reasonable funding coming from them wouldn't put a dent in the $150+ million school needs we're facing.

More Linky Goodness -

If you follow this link - you will see a rural area that took a regional approach to growth and development.

Six counties worked together to develop a plan for their area. No county or town wants to give up their autonomy but by working together, more people 'win' and fewer people 'lose'. I intend to encourage our county commissioners to work with their colleagues in our towns and also with those in surrounding counties. What none of us could afford by ourselves could become possible with combined effort.

The growth and development I see locally - Wake gets the goldmine; Johnston gets the shaft.
They get the jobs; we get the houses for the people that take those jobs. I'm sure there's a similar pattern in other rural counties.

I would encourage you to attend every county commission meeting that you can; take friends with you. Talk to them and find out where they stand on issues that are important to you. Encourage them to take bold steps and thank them when do. Let them know they have your support.

I would also encourage you to go online and do some research. Find out what worked and what didn't in other places. Some issues are unique to their environment but many others aren't. Access to good schools, good jobs, and a healthy environment transcend geography.

My biggest frustration was Raleigh's decision to abandon light rail. We need it. We needed it 10 years ago. I hope they take it up again but point it in the right direction this time.

You can PM me anytime and I'll share any info I have and I'll even help you hunt for it. :)

Glad to hear

Granville is joining in the call. Unique is right. It will take all of us "bedroom community" counties joining together.

Counties around Charlotte are joining in.

Counties in the mountains are joining in.

Counties at the coast are joining in.

That's a lot of people and a lot of voters we're talking about. This issue -- giving local gov'ts more options -- will hit the Legislature this year. A study committee is recommending giving counties the option to levy a half cent sales tax. Rep. Julia Howard, a Realtor herself, nixed language in the bill that also gave local gov't impact fee and transfer tax options. But this fight isn't over. The issue will come up again in the Lege, and local gov't can win, but they need us -- average regular citizens to join in the discussion and let county commissions know we support their efforts to find rational ways to pay for explosive growth. Start going to local meetings. Walk up to the microphone and comment whenever they let you. :)

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I Want to Know -

Who hung the sign that says: 'North Carolina for Sale - Cheap'

Filed yesterday in the NC House

H153: (Sponsor - Rep. Michaux)
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT to authorize counties and cities to levy a menu of local option taxes if approved by the voters.

This bill gives local gov't the ability to at least hold a referendum on additional sales and use taxes. The last article appears to provide the option for referenda on transfer taxes, but a close read is beyond the scope of this comment.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Nice start, but

It's a nice start to have that option, but there the whole sales tax being regressive thing. Why not let the VOTERS decide on a much wider array of taxing options including impact fees, etc.? Oh yeah, the realtor and homebuilder associations don't like those.

Very interesting

It looks like most of the development taxes there are recurring, rather than one-time, like the impact fee. I'll have to think about it, but I think I kind of prefer the impact fee.

On the other hand, the "impact tax" appears to permit municipalities to charge *per square foot* on residences. That's actually relatively progressive, and socks it to the McMansions. I could get behind that...

Fairness

They talk about "fairness" in coming with with new types of taxation. That's supposedly why the committee in the legislature took out any recommendations other than sales taxes.

One-time fees/taxes can actually be more fair, especially when applied to growth-related needs. Theoretically, an impact fee pays for that home's share of existing or planned capital needs. Once they've paid for their "seat", the other taxes like property and existing sales taxes should cover operational costs.

Recurring fees don't come as close to forcing growth to pay for growth. They force everyone to pay for growth.

This bill

passed 1st read in House and was sent to Committee on Finance. I'm not sure what that means in practical terms. Is the Committe on Finance where good bills go to get killed, or where good bills go to mature and grow support and co-sponsors? I have little more than a school house rock understanding of legislative workings. Any enlightenment on the subject from Legislative lurkers would be so very welcome.

For what its worth, here is the abridged version of House bill 153, by Article. Note that this bill will not give local gov't the ability to levy impact or transfer fee by right, but will allow for the passing of taxes and fees by local referendum.

AN ACT to authorize counties and cities to levy a menu of local option taxes if approved by the voters.

Article 46. "Second One‑Cent (1¢) Local Government Sales and Use Tax.
Authority. – If the majority of those voting in a referendum held pursuant to this Article vote for the levy of the taxes, the governing body of a taxing unit may, by resolution, levy local sales and use taxes up to the rate approved in the referendum, in addition to any other State and local sales and use taxes levied pursuant to law.

Article 47. "Local Government Impact Tax.
Authority. – If the majority of those voting in a referendum held pursuant to this Article vote for the levy of the tax, the governing body of a taxing unit may, by resolution, levy a local tax on the impact of land development, up to the rates approved in the referendum.

Article 48. "Local Government Meals Tax.
Authority. – If the majority of those voting in a referendum held pursuant to this Article vote for the levy of the tax, the governing body of a taxing unit may, by resolution, levy a local meals tax up to the rate approved in the referendum, in addition to any other State and local sales and use taxes levied pursuant to law. The tax applies to the sales price of prepared food and drink sold within the taxing unit at retail, for consumption on or off the premises, by a retailer within the county that is subject to sales tax under G.S. 105‑164.4(a)(1). A meals tax must become effective on the date specified in the resolution levying the tax. That date must be the first day of a calendar month, however, and may not be earlier than the first day of the second month after the date the resolution is adopted.

Article 49. "Local Government Occupancy Tax.
Authority. – If the majority of those voting in a referendum held pursuant to this Article vote for the levy of the tax, the governing body of a taxing unit may, by resolution, levy a local occupancy tax up to the rate approved in the referendum. The tax applies to the gross receipts derived from the rental of any room, lodging, or accommodation furnished by a hotel, motel, inn, tourist camp, or similar place within the taxing unit that is subject to sales tax imposed by the State under G.S. 105‑164.4(a)(3). The tax is in addition to any State or local sales tax.

Article 49A. "Local Government Income Tax.
Authority. – If the majority of those voting in a referendum held pursuant to this Article vote for the levy of the tax, the governing body of a taxing unit may, by resolution, levy a local income tax on residents of the taxing unit up to the rate approved in the referendum. The tax is calculated as a percentage of the North Carolina income tax of every individual who is a resident of the taxing unit as of the end of the taxable year. If the resolution is adopted before September 1, the tax becomes effective for taxable years beginning on or after the following January 1. If the resolution is adopted on or after September 1, the tax becomes effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1 of the second calendar year following adoption of the resolution.

Article 49B. "Local Government Land Transfer Tax.
Authority. – If the majority of those voting in a referendum held pursuant to this Article vote for the levy of the tax, the governing body of a taxing unit may, by resolution, levy a local land transfer tax on instruments conveying interests in real property located in the taxing unit, up to the rate approved in the referendum. The tax applies to the consideration or value, whichever is greater, of the interest conveyed, including the value of any lien or encumbrance remaining on the property at the time of sale. The levy of the tax may become effective only on the first day of a calendar month set in the resolution levying the tax, which may not be earlier than the first day of the second succeeding calendar month after the date the resolution is adopted.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

maybe the bigger answer here...

...is found in the initiative process.

ever consider such a thing for nc?

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965