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Impact fee phase-in gets initial Rock Hill council OK: What’s next?

Rock Hill officials say they’re delighted to receive a $1.25 million grant from Santee Cooper that will help pay for a new business park.
Rock Hill officials say they’re delighted to receive a $1.25 million grant from Santee Cooper that will help pay for a new business park. Herald file photo

The York County Regional Chamber of Commerce is asking city officials to continue looking for ways to expand public services without inhibiting business growth.

Harvey Hawkins, the chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, asked the Rock Hill City Council on Monday to respect the “delicate balance” between sustaining economic growth and being able to attract new business in the community.

The comments come after several developers have spoken out against a proposed rate hike on impact fees levied on new development in Rock Hill.

In Monday’s City Council meeting, council members approved a first reading of a proposal that would implement 50 percent of the water and wastewater impact fee increases starting July 1, 2017, and 100 percent of the hikes effective July 1, 2018.

We have to do heart surgery while the heart is still beating.

Jimmy Bagley, deputy city manager of Rock Hill

The second reading will take place on Sept. 26 at the next council meeting. Should the council pass the second reading, the measure will be fully adopted.

The chamber recognizes the city needs to expand its water and sewer facilities to facilitate growth, Hawkins said.

“We make this request with the primary goal of ensuring the higher impact fees are better supported by existing businesses and more supportive of future business development,” Hawkins said.

The city’s water plant, which currently services 36 million gallons of water per day, would be expanded to maintain 48 million gallons per day.

The impact fee increases are needed to make improvements in the city’s water treatment systems, according to Jimmy Bagley, deputy city manager. The city enacted impact fees in 2003 and has not increased them since.

Improvements include expanding the water treatment building and adding filters to improve service and keep up with demand. The plant, which services 36 million gallons of water per day, would be expanded to maintain 48 million gallons per day.

$14.3 million The amount the city of Rock Hill has collected in impact fees since they were enacted back in 2003.

Developers have expressed concern at what they see as a dramatic fee increase. Currently, the combined water and wastewater impact fees for a structure with a 1-inch meter would total $2,218. Under the proposed rates, a similar structure would face a $7,950 fee.

The City Council decided to delay a final vote on the initial plan proposed in June that would have raised the impact fees in one fell swoop.

Rather than introduce the increases all at once, the city’s new proposal would implement no increases in fiscal year 2017, then phase in the hikes through the following two fiscal years.

Rob Youngblood, chamber president, said the next two weeks should provide enough time for developers and city officials to continue to work toward a fair compromise.

“We understand the need for this,” said Youngblood, who said he did not expect a fee hike to affect business growth. “We can’t have economic development without water/sewer capacity. We’re just looking for additional time for discussion.”

David Thackham: 803-329-4066, @dthackham

What does this mean for me?

Are you a developer? If the City Council decides to approve the second reading for the impact fee hikes, the measure will be adopted.

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