Council Sticks to Impact Fees

WINNSBORO (July 28, 2016) – Developers of a second phase of a Blythewood subdivision will have to pony up for impact fees, Town Council decided last week, if they want water from Winnsboro. Council’s vote during their July 19 meeting to stick to those fees, however, means Landtech Asset Management, LLC will likely draw water from the City of Columbia.

“They wanted to know if there was any wiggle room in those charges for impact fees and tap fees,” Mayor Roger Gaddy said after last week’s meeting. “They had an option to get water from us or Columbia. And I think they did what any person would do whenever they’re representing their own business, they’re going to see if there’s any way they can cut their costs.”

The development, near 502 Rimer Pond Road, represents the second stage of Coatsbridge, John Fantry, Winnsboro’s utilities attorney, explained this week. Winnsboro had previously approved 33,150 gallons of water per day for the 100 lots in the initial phase, which is currently under construction. Landtech’s request for phase one was submitted and approved prior to Winnsboro’s implementation of impact fees, which went into effect last August. When Landtech began exploring a second phase of 126 lots to Coatsbridge, they asked Council for a reduction or waiver of the impact fees.

Under the impact fee policy, residential customers are charged a one-time fee of $1,500 for water and $2,100 for sewer service. Industries pay anywhere from $1,500 for a 5/8 of an inch meter to $172,500 for a 10-inch meter. Wastewater ranges from $2,100 to $241,500, also based on meter size. The fees were recommended by a rate study undertaken by the Town last year.

“We had a rate study done and we paid like $40,000 for it and that’s their recommendation, those rates,” Town Manager Don Wood said, “and Town Council looked at it and they said that is fair and if he (the developer) wants to go to Columbia, he can investigate that.”

Fantry said Council has been weighing the Landtech request for several weeks. At issue, he said, was the choice between adding 126 potential customers to the system versus collecting fees designed to keep that system viable over the long term.

“That’s 126 additional customers at approximately 300 gallons per day per home,” Fantry said. “That’s a chunk of money, too. If we don’t provide some incentive to the developer, those customers will never come onto our system.”

The development, Fantry said, is on the tail end of Winnsboro’s system where developers have a choice between Winnsboro and Columbia water.

“If this developer jumps (to Columbia), others may follow,” Fantry said, “and that end of the system will be under-used.”

But, Fantry added, if Council waived or reduced fees for Landtech, they would be setting a precedent for the next developer, and the next.

“Council felt they needed to stay the course with the development fees,” Fantry said.

“The more customers we put on, the more infrastructure we have to build,” Gaddy said. “Since we have such a low margin on water, we have to have an impact fee to help support the infrastructure we have to put in. The more we add down there on that far end the more we have to start looking at another water tank.”

And that, Gaddy said, could run into the million-dollar range.

 

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