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Impact fee law repealed ... for now

November 21, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Two weeks ago, the Jefferson County Commission passed an impact fee law to help pay for new school construction.

By Thursday afternoon, it was history.

The commission, on a 3-2 vote, decided to repeal the impact fee law because a date in the ordinance was incorrect.

The commissioners will consider the impact fee law on Monday during a special meeting, and school officials said they hope the matter can be resolved quickly.

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When the commissioners passed impact fees two weeks ago, they intended to put a passage date of Nov. 6 in the ordinance and make the startup date for collection of fees 61 days later. The fees then could start being collected on the 62nd day - Jan. 7, 2004.

Instead of putting a passage date of Nov. 6 in the ordinance, the passage date was listed as Jan. 7.

That would have put the start of fee collection on March 7.

At first, it didn't seem to be a big thing to some county officials, Commission President Jane Tabb said.

The thought was to change the date and proceed, she said.

But the commissioners on Thursday became involved in a long debate about how to resolve the issue, and the discussion boiled down to two alternatives: Amend the newly passed law, or repeal it and pass a new one.

Given the choices, Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols said he favored repealing the law because amending it would trigger more public hearings.

Nichols said he figured the commissioners would be able to repeal the impact fee law and immediately pass a new one with the correct date.

That idea ran into trouble when Commissioner James G. Knode said the commissioners could not vote on the impact fee law because the issue was not on Thursday's agenda.

The commissioners agreed to hold a special meeting Monday at 11 a.m. to reconsider the impact fee law.

Although the situation was a bit worrisome, Nichols said, he and Jefferson County Board of Education President Lori Stilley commended the commissioners for the work they have done to develop an impact fee system.

"I'm just grateful we got this far," Nichols said.

Commissioners Greg Corliss, Rusty Morgan and Al Hooper voted to repeal the impact fee law and Tabb and Commissioner James G. Knode voted against it.

Tabb said she favored Jefferson County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Cassell's advice to amend the current law.

Although Tabb initially voted for impact fees on Nov. 6, she hinted during the meeting Thursday that she might be changing her mind about the process.

"I'm still thinking on it," Tabb said when asked later Thursday how she plans to vote Monday.

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