Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill eyes wish list for impact fee money

As a decision on impact fees looms, Fort Mill Town Council is getting an idea how much growth and development might cost in terms of public services and how much the fees might help.

Council saw a draft April 27 of items the town will or may need to fund within 20 years. Together, the needs list totaled $146.5 million for equipment, facilities and transportation projects.

“This is a wish list,” said Councilman Tom Adams. “This is all hypothetical.”

Widening parts or all of S.C. 160, Dobys Bridge Road, Springfield Parkway, U.S. 21 and Whites Road by 2033 came in at $57.5 million. The money also includes a realignment of Whites Road at a future high school site, which could eliminate the need for a fourth traffic signal on Fort Mill Parkway.

“Having four signals within about half a mile kind of defeats the purpose of having a bypass,” said Joe Cronin, planning director.

The list had $20.5 million for vehicles and equipment, and $68.5 million for facilities. It included $7.5 million for a new Town Hall by 2018, $15 million for a gym and aquatics center by 2030 and $5.7 million for three fire stations by 2020.

It ranged from smaller projects such as landscaping vehicles or water park equipment to a $5 million police station, $5 million recreation facility and $4.5 million for multipurpose fields. A mobile command center for town police and 40 acres for recreation made the list, generated by projections and requests from each town department.

“That list is a moving, changing target,” said Dennis Pieper, town manager.

This list came as a requirement for possible impact fees. The town would keep a running sheet of eligible projects for the funding that could come in for parks and recreation, fire service, municipal use or transportation.

Those needs couldn’t be funded entirely through impact fees. Based on the known residences approved or planned for construction, the most the town could charge on new housing is $15.4 million. Some commercial or industrial uses could have higher impact fee rates.

“Impact fees will not generate enough capital to meet all of these needs,” Cronin said. “The true value would be the leveraging of those dollars for partnerships.”

Transportation needs, in particular, cost well more than the town would collect. But the town could use incoming capital to secure matching grants or make projects shovel-ready, and more attractive to Pennies for Progress or Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study rounds of funding.

Pieper, emphasizing that officials are still just thinking out loud, said approving impact fees wouldn’t lock in the projects on the wish list. He did say, however, that he’s seen the difference impact fees can make. When he was in Summerville, impact fees were key in adding fire service as the community grew, he said.

“Without it, (Summerville) wouldn’t have five fire stations,” Pieper said.

While impact fees could change the funding mechanism, they won’t change whether the listed services and improvements are needed. Projections are based on approved and expected community growth, not how much an impact fee would collect.

“These needs will still be there in the future,” Cronin said.

Council will hear from the town planning commission on a recommendation, but make the final decision on whether to charge the fees and if so, at what rate.

“Without this fee,” Adams said, “I don’t see any path forward to providing for all this growth.”

John Marks •  803-547-2353