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Local Powers Act passes W.Va. House

April 03, 2001

Local Powers Act passes W.Va. House



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


A piece of legislation that will help growing Eastern Panhandle counties implement impact fees to offset the cost of providing public services easily passed in the House of Delegates Monday.

The Local Powers Act proposal passed unanimously on a voice vote, according to Del. Dale Manuel, D-Jefferson, who introduced the proposal with Del. John Doyle, D-Jefferson.

Impact fees are fees charged to developers to help county governments pay for services like new schools, expanded fire and police protection, and other services.

There is a Local Powers Act on the books, but to implement impact fees under the current law, counties must wade through a complex set of requirements.

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To make implementation of the Local Powers Act easier, the Jefferson County Commission had sought permission from the state Legislature to enforce building codes only on new buildings, not existing ones.

To implement impact fees, counties must enact zoning, building codes and a capital improvements plan.

Under the bill introduced by Manuel and Doyle, the Jefferson County Board of Education would be able to implement a portion of an impact fee dealing with new school construction while the Jefferson County Commission would be able to implement the portion of an impact fee that deals with funding other services like libraries and police and fire services, said Manuel.

Larry Togans, president of the Jefferson County Board of Education, said there has not been much discussion about how much impact fees in the county should be.

About the only discussion on the subject has been whether the same fee should be assessed on a house despite how much the house's selling price, Togans said.

"We've just had some light discussions on that," Togans said.

Under Manuel and Doyle's proposal, which is House Bill 2762, county voters would be allowed to put the rate of an impact fee up for a referendum if they believe it is too high, Manuel said.

The proposal now goes to the West Virginia Senate.

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