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The Town of Mount Pleasant is preparing to implement new development impact fees to fund capital projects. The recommendation, poised for final vote at a special meeting of council on Monday, would increase total fees by as much as 57%. A fee hike of this magnitude will significantly impact any East Area Chamber member who plans to expand.
Definition: An impact fee is a one-time fee imposed by local government on a proposed new development project. They are intended to offset the cost of providing public services to the new development.
Background: Since 1988, Mount Pleasant has had impact fees in place for fire protection, municipal facilities, transportation and, on residential projects, recreation. These are on top of water and wastewater impact fees charged by Mount Pleasant Waterworks. They don’t include any project-specific environmental mitigation fees.
Proposal: As part of their Capital Improvement Plan, Mount Pleasant Town Council commissioned a market study to establish new maximum allowable impact fees. The ordinance currently under consideration would replace the current structure with new fees pegged at 33% of the study’s maximum allowable for fire and municipal and 45% of maximum for transportation. Some on Council have publicly stated support for assessing the full maximum allowable rates. The proposed new rates would add significant cost to all new construction projects. For example:
Impact on Businesses, Town and Residents
Impact fees increases of this scale are almost certain to have a chilling effect on economic growth. New and existing Mount Pleasant businesses planning to expand will have to consider looking outside the Town limits to keep project overhead manageable. For the Town’s budget, that could mean stagnate property tax base. For residents, it could mean fewer new dining or shopping options close to home and driving further for medical care.
Big upfront fees like these are the opposite of smart growth. The added cost encourages construction outside of the town limits. That means fewer options and services close by and more people driving further in all directions to work, shop, and dine. These impact fees are really just an incentive for sprawl. A smarter option would be creating a regulatory framework that helps cite projects nearer to population centers.
Limiting Tax Base
While they may promise quick cash for town needs, impact fees limit future revenue potential. When businesses evaluate the added upfront cost from impact fees and decide to invest elsewhere, the Town of Mount Pleasant loses out on years of property tax revenue. Promoting responsible growth within the town limits will broaden the base of ratepayers and increase the town’s capacity to serve all residents.
You have an opportunity to speak out in person on this fee hike. On Monday April 3, Mount Pleasant Town Council has scheduled a Finance Committee where new impact fee rates will be proposed, followed by a Special Meeting of council to vote to inact new fees. There is opportunity for public comment at the beginning of both meetings. If you’re interested in adding your testimony to the record, we can help you craft talking points. Meeting details are:
What: Mount Pleasant Town Council, Finance Committee and Special Council Meeting
When: Monday, April 3 – 10:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Where: Municipal Complex, Building A, Public Meeting Room 1, 100 Ann Edwards Lane, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
You can also call or email Town Council Members.