Understanding Impact Fee Rebates
The case for Independence subdivision explained
An Elbert County agreement to rebate growth impact fees to developers of the Independence subdivision has recently been discussed in our community. This article addresses why the choice was made, and shares examples of why this situation is not out of the ordinary.
The rebate, or waiving of impact fees, is common for large projects like Independence where the developer’s long-term requirements cost more than the rebate. For small developments, the County collects and retains the impact fees to improve the road network that serves the small development over time. For a development like Independence, where substantial road additions (new turn lanes, widening, or completely new road segments) are needed, the County rebates the impact fee but the developer is required to do the actual construction necessary to serve the area.
Because rebate fees are set at the time of application, the cost of constructing the improvements at a future date will most likely always be higher than they were when they were set due to inflation, labor costs, updated road standards, etc. Though the impact rebate may seem like a loophole for the developer, in reality they will likely pay much more for the improvements they are required to construct than the amount they receive from rebated fees.
For example, 20-year-old Spring Valley Ranches subdivision is just now hitting construction trigger points for new road connections servicing the area. This construction is based on requirements levied when the project was approved around 2001. The fees at that time were much lower than today, yet the requirement remains the same. In the case of Independence, the fees have already increased substantially since the original application was made; yet the work required of them has not changed.
The County has received (not including any rebated fees) well over $250,000 related to this development and more is expected as construction of homes begins next spring. We are holding the developer to the agreements made with the County and the developer is responsible to address the traffic impact improvements not just during the initial construction phase but throughout the life of the project. The County is committed to ensuring that “development pays for itself”.