published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Should Lake County reinstate impact fees?
greg jones | Staff Writer
The Lake County Commission is re-examining its position on transportation impact fees.
The fees have been suspended since March 2010 to help the economy recover, but now Lake County needs more revenue and the board wants to commission a study to see how much could be generated by reinstating the fees. The commission also could examine how much money could be raised if a lesser amount was charged, perhaps as little as 10 or 20 percent of whatever the study says might be possible.
Commissioner Jimmy Conner is opposed. While he said he understands what the board is trying to achieve, he said waiving impact fees creates jobs. He said he wants to know what the public thinks about the plan and will place the question on his personal web site.
"I understand the need to do a study, but I would like to wave impact fees for a year," Conner said, while endorsing the 10- or 20-percent solution. "But at the same time I'm focused on job creation more than revenue.
"I know we have a revenue problem, but if residents come and storm the meetings, and say they don't want impact fees, then there is no need to do a study."
But Commissioner Tim Sullivan and Chairman Leslie Campione support doing the study. Sullivan said he supported impact fees as a Lake County School Board member many years ago.
But Sullivan said he doesn't believe the local economy could handle reinstating impact fees at 100 percent.
"I believe we should go forward with study, but I don't see us implementing 100 percent of impact fees," he said.
Campione agreed with Conner about the importance of jobs and having public input. However, she said there has to be a balanced approach to job growth and other issues affecting the county. She said she would support 10 percent and possibly 20 percent.
"We can't get so focused on jobs that we can't be visionaries and look at the impact this could have on us county-wide in the future," she said. "I think we could go forward with a study, and we could look at adopting some percentage of that amount, and we can go as low as 10 percent."
Some county officials favor reinstating the fees to spur economic growth by helping fund road projects.
Commissioner Welton Cadwell said relying heavily on gas taxes and transportation impact fees has put the county in a bad situation. He said the county needs to seriously look at other funding sources.