Impact, other fees may be needed

June 24, 1997


Staff Writer

The prospect of impact fees, special taxing districts and other options were mentioned Tuesday as possible ways to fund a $27 million the county's building program through 2003.

The County Commissioners, as part of a long-term debt-reduction plan, have set a goal of borrowing $6.5 million a year.

The five-year plan of projects presented by County Finance Director Debra Bastian Tuesday exceeds that goal by $27 million.

Bastian said the commissioners will face some tough decisions to either cut or delay planned projects or come up with more revenue. That revenue could come from the county general fund, by borrowing more money or by charging developers impact fees or creating special taxing districts, she said.

"Basically we're just trying to get them ready for what's coming down the road," she said.

Commissioner James R. Wade said that the county did need to look at ways to better pay for the costs of development, whether it be through impact fees or other charges.


Commissioner John S. Shank said he didn't like the word impact and would prefer that the fees be called development fees. Shank said it made sense to beef up the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and have developers pay for some of the costs associated with development.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook noted that this is the first time the county has looked at revenue more than one year away. Snook said that he would need to look at the entire plan of where the money would come from and where it would go before deciding whether to support impact fees.

"I think we need to look at impact fees," said County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers. Bowers said he wanted to make sure that the fees were charged uniformly.

Bowers said the staff still wasn't addressing the need to lay more sewer lines to get more sewage into the underused Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant in order to reduce the $3.53 million subsidy of water and sewer.

"How long are we going to sit here and let that sewer plant sit there?" Bowers asked.

Bowers suggested laying lines, such as one from Mack Trucks' factory, under Interstate 81 to the treatment plant, which would funnel sewer from the growing north end of Hagerstown, he said.

"You're not going to make money if you don't spend money,"Shank said.

Planning Director Robert Arch cautioned that simply building more sewer lines could add to the county's water and sewer problems by increasing the debt.

"If we try that we'll be back to our Field of Dreams approach, `Build it and they will come,' and I know nobody in this room wants to do that," Rohrer said.

Commissioner James R. Wade said the way to address the underutilization of the Conococheague plant was by negotiating new service areas with the City of Hagerstown, which is planning an $8 million project to increase capacity at its sewer plant.

Bowers and the other commissioners agreed on the need for negotiations.

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