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Check the math, yes, but do not waive fees

July 08, 2004

You can't blame developer Manny Shaool for trying to get a break on the $2.2 million in fees the Washington County government wants him to pay for a development in the Robinwood area.

Just a few months ago, the County Commissioners agreed to cut the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance fee by 75 percent for a proposed office complex in the Maugansville area - for an unnamed developer who wouldn't say whether the 100 jobs the building would hold were new, or just relocated from another part of the county.

We certainly agree that Shaool has the right to be ask the county staff to justify the fairness of the fees he's being asked to pay. But if the commissioners are going to back down on the APFO fees again, they should be honest enough to tell all the other taxpayers that they'll be taking up the slack.

The present APFO formula was approved in December 2003. Developers in the Maugans Avenue/Long Meadow Road area would have to pay $6,000 per afternoon peak hour trip, up from $5,600.

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In April, county staff asked the commissioners to lower the AFPO fee of $7,335 per unit levied against residential developers who build in areas where schools are at 85 percent of capacity.

The county board rejected that proposal in May. On Tuesday, Gary Rohrer, the county's director of public works, said what Shaool is being asked to pay is fair, and that the fees would not be waived.

Barring some mistake in the calculations, we urge the county to stand firm. If development doesn't cover its own costs, then the rest of the taxpayers will get the bill.

In April, the commissioners backed down, even though the proposed office building was to go in the Maugans Avenue area, where traffic congestion is already a problem. In addition, they did so even though there was no guarantee that the 100 jobs would be new ones, or that they would pay anything more than warehouse work.

In other words, if our elected officials are going to give anyone a break, it should be because what the developer is offering is worth forgoing a bit of tax revenue.

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