Once again, the County Council wants to consider additional impact fees on new home construction, ostensibly to cover increased costs to the school system.

Once again, it is being mischaracterized as a fee paid by developers. The developers and builders add those fees to the cost of the home. Along with other costs of doing business such as material and labor. The home purchaser pays the fees, most likely without realizing it, because it is part of the purchase price and rolled into the mortgage.

Since the fees increase the price of the home, then it also increases the home's real estate taxes — half of which go to operating the school system. Consequently, the purchaser pays mortgage interest and principle, probably over 30 years, for the fees, as well as elevated real estate taxes.

While much consideration is given on raising fees, it would be greatly appreciated if the same level of consideration would be applied to controlling costs — the $120 million spent on the Frederick High School comes to mind. Incidentally, a building that has sat idle for most of the year.

It has been a little over three years since it was completed. Unless I missed it, we are still waiting on the response of elected officials who said they would explain why the price was so high and what would be done in the future to mitigate such egregious expense. As is often the case with government programs, the emphasis is on increasing tax and fee levies and not on cost containment.

(7) comments

eak1969123

The issue is the county council trying to make it appear the developers are the ones paying the fees and that they are not taxing citizens. That is not the case. They should be more transparent. Also, the fees are not equitable. A single person with no children buying a new townhouse or condo will pay the fee. Even though they have no impact on the school system. Conversely, a family with school aged children moving into an existing home in the county will impact the school system but not pay the fee.

Piedmontgardener

With respect, the cost of new development in infrastructure is quantifiable and there is not an issue one way or the other as to whether it comes out of the developer's pocket or is reimbursed at the settlement table. While I agree with you concern over the construction cost overruns on the the school, A has nothing to do with B and your letter doesn't address infrastructure that must be factored in with new development.

shiftless88

You are missing the point; this extra fee makes current homes a bit more attractive. No one is forcing anyone to buy new. The price of the new house should be compared to that of an existing house by the buyer. If the new house is substantially more expensive that will steer them towards existing houses on the market. So perhaps the developer has to eat the fee just a bit. Or the buyer makes the conscious choice to pay extra for the new house because these fees are needed.

matthewboh

I have never met a poor real estate developer or new homes builder. Probably because we, the long-term residents of this county, pay for everything. Let them pay!

jsklinelga

Ms Kitchen,

You have touched on two subjects. The indirect impact of impact fees and the cost of school construction.

Impact fees have been an ongoing subject of debate and scrutiny since their inception. The logic is sound -new homes pay for new required services. The cost has always been an issue but the new conversation dynamic will be -required services. 2020 has taught us that many new, and less costly, ways to educate our children are available .For example a widely expanded, statewide voucher system would reduce the need for new construction and reduce our tax burdens.

As far as Frederick High's exorbitant cost, the answer is simple. Out of control government programs and spending. Sadly laughable we could not afford to pay the workers building the facility a prevailing wage without skyrocketing cost. (A lesser pay scale arrangement then the huge government workforce utilizing the facility receive) And the substantial extra cost of the LEED structure. The brainchild of the New Green deal.

jsklinelga

My sincerest apologies should be Mr. Kitchen .

TomWheatley

But just think of all the money saved with the more efficient building! All of it will disappear in the bottomless BOE budget and we will never know if it went towards teachers or building more palaces like the downtown HQ.

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