GUYTON, Ga. (WTOC) - A recent city council meeting in Guyton left Habitat for Humanity footing a bill of thousands of dollars that they weren’t anticipating while building homes in the city.
But according to the city, waiving that fee, even for a good cause, would have been illegal.
“We were caught off guard,” said President of the Board of Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County David Sharp.
The fee? A tap fee, for water and sewer on the homes being built by Habitat in the city.
The reason it was a surprise to them?
“Other jurisdictions across the state usually forgive tap fees,” said Effingham Habitat Executive Director Jimmy Rutland.
Forgiveness Rutland claims they’ve gotten in Guyton in the past.
“We worked with the city before 15 years ago we built six houses here, the city supported us fully. But since we started back here, we haven’t been able to get the support we had 15 years ago.”
So, why weren’t they able to waive the fee this time?
Well, according to Guyton Mayor Russ Deen, “our city attorney clarified that municipalities are not allowed by law to give donations to charities.”
In other words, “I as the Mayor should not get to dictate where your tax dollars go as far as charitable donations,” said Mayor Deen.
According to Mayor Deen they did take a closer look at the site however and lowered the fees from the typical $6,500 to $4,100 per lot.
Leaving tap fees of just over $8-thousand dollars for the two lots still to be paid.
Fees that Habitat is hoping you’ll help them raise, to give these future homeowners a hand up
“By somebody donating or doing that it reduces their fees, it reduces their mortgage. That’s the goal,” said Sharp.
Despite what they call a “misunderstanding,” Habitat hasn’t ruled out working in Guyton in the future.
“If we get land donated if we get somebody who sees the need to donate land or wants to donate land, yes, we will build back in Guyton,” Sharp says.
Something Mayor Deen and the city hope will be the case.
“We are a big fan of Habitat and what they do for our community, especially those who are trying to enjoy home-ownership.”
Habitat says they could also use more volunteers to help them finish their current builds.
For more information on how to donate or volunteer click here.