Concerns Raised About Impact Fee Bill

It calls for an annual adjustment of the fees on new residential construction.


Frederick, Md (KM)  Some concerns were expressed last Tuesday during a hearing on legislation to annually adjust impact fees in Frederick County.

The fees are imposed on new residential development and are used to pay for school and library construction. New homeowners pay the fee based on the “impact” their homes would have on increasing student enrollment and use of the local library. It’s spread over the life of a mortgage..

This new law would require an annual report with proposed adjustments be presented to the County Council on or before January 15th. It would also specify the annual adjustments for the school and library impact fees which would take affect on July 1st, the beginning of the fiscal year. An automatic adjustment of the fees would take  place unless the Council enacts a bill changing or maintaining the current impact fees which would take affect on or before June 30th of the same year as the report.

During a public hearing last Tuesday before the County Council, Shirley McDonald with the League of Women Voters testified in support of this bill. “The local League has a long history of support for public education and for the use of impact fees to help fund public schools and libraries,” she said. “One of our goals for the past two years and the year ahead is continue monitoring the county’s APFO {Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance} and impact and mitigation fees.”

But other speakers had concerns. Mark Long, representing the Affordable Housing Council, said impact fees can affect the price of a new home and its affordability. “The Affordable Housing Council does not have a specific recommendation regarding the proposed impact fees. But requests the County Council consider other formulas, or other methods, for obtaining necessary funds in the future,” he said.

Tracie Claybaugh with the Frederick County Building Industry Association, also suggested other methods be used to pay for schools and libraries. “The Building Industry has always supported paying our fair share to insure a first rate school system in Frederick County for today and tomorrow,” she said. “However, the impact on school enrollment is much broader, and so too should the available solutions.”

Impact fees pay for the “impacts” new homes have on school enrollment and library use. But Michael Natelli, Vice President of Natelli Communities, suggested not all increases in student enrollment come from new developments. “I feel like us as a community we should better understand what’s driving student enrollment,” he said. “What portion of growth is coming from new homes? What portion is coming from existing homes? . What other data is there out there which could guide us in this process.”

If the impact fee adjustment legislation passes, the fee for a new single family detached home would decrease in fiscal year 2020.  But the fee for townhouses and other residences would go up.

The Council could make a decision on this on Tuesday, April 16th.


By Kevin McManus