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W.Va. fee dispute may land in court

June 04, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

The Jefferson County Commission voted Thursday to take legal action against the city of Charles Town over the city's non-payment of school impact fees.

The issue arose in March when the commissioners said no impact fees had been paid in Charles Town or Ranson, W.Va., since county officials began collecting them on Jan. 26.

An agreement was reached between county officials and Ranson city officials over the collection of the fees, which help pay for new school facilities.

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At the time the agreement with Ranson was worked out, Commissioner Rusty Morgan said the issue revolved around a lack of understanding of the administrative process.

Since then, the commissioners have been trying to work out an agreement with Charles Town officials.

Commissioner James G. Knode said Thursday it appears no impact fees have ever been paid for home building permits issued in Charles Town.

Knode said he could not disclose more details, including the total amount of impact fees that should have been collected so far in Charles Town.

County officials have declined to say what kind of legal action they might take over non-payment of impact fees.

The commissioners agreed to take the legal action following a closed-door meeting Thursday with impact fee coordinator Mark Schiavone and Jefferson County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mike Cassell.

"I wish this could have worked out. I'm very disappointed it didn't come to be," said Commission President Al Hooper.

Reached after the meeting, Charles Town Mayor Randy Hilton said he could not go into detail about the situation.

But Hilton said he thinks the issue can be resolved.

"There are no insurmountable hurdles that can't be worked out," Hilton said.

Impact fees are paid by developers to help pay for the cost of public services needed because of population growth.

Under the school impact fee system in Jefferson County, developers have to pay $7,122 for every new single-family home and mobile home they put up, $5,562 for every townhouse or duplex and $4,040 for every multi-family dwelling.

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