Savannah city council discusses proposed impact fees

Savannah city council discusses proposed impact fees
Savannah city council discusses proposed impact fees(WTOC)
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 5:53 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2023 at 6:48 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - City manager Jay Melder recommends council adopt impact fees at a rate 22% lower than the maximum cost set by the state.

For industrial projects, the fee depends on the square footage.

“It’s an additional cost to construction like a permit fee or tap in fee for water and sewer or if the cost of materials goes up. It’s an additional construction cost,” Jay Melder said.

He said for a home the impact fee would be 1 percent of the average home sale cost which is just over 3,900 dollars.

Mayor Van Johnson said the home buyer association in Savannah sent a letter opposing the extra fee at Tuesday’s meeting. That’s because there’s a chance the fees will fall on home buyers and not developers, according to Melder.

“A developer or contractor is going to necessarily pass that cost on to the either the end byer to be able to make up for that additional cost.”

The money from the impact fees will be directed to the communities where the development is happening.

He says impact fee money would really pay off for communities anticipating growth like West Savannah and the New Hempstead area.

“We need to make sure we have fire stations, police stations recreational assets, roads and sidewalks that new residents in new communities are going to need to have to be safe and quality of life.”

He told the council adopting impact fees on any lower rates will defeat its purpose.

“If you really want to have an impact fee that works you have to adopt one at a significant level, otherwise you’re not going to be able to provide the amenities to those communities you’ve promised.”

The council only had their first reading Tuesday so there was no vote. The second reading and vote is expected to happen during their meeting on Feb. 23.

If they do not adopt impact fees, Melder says they’ll need to use property and sales tax money to fund city improvements.