York County Council considers new impact fee on new construction in Fort Mill

New fee to build home in Fort Mill could cost $18K

YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - Fort Mill is one of the fastest growing towns in the Carolinas and across the country, but with that comes a hefty price tag.

"We've been growing by roughly 1,000 students each year," Director of Communications for Fort Mill Schools Joe Burke said.

Right now, the district's third high school, Catawba Ridge High School, is being built and two more schools are on track to start construction soon.

In March, Fort Mill voters passed a $190 million bond referendum to help pay for new schools. A move that would cost an additional $140/year for the average household.

But with growth continuing, the school district says more construction may be needed. Now, it's asking York County Council to approve a new way to bring in revenue, without a tax hike.

"In the hopes that we would be able to cut down on the use of that bond, to give our tax payers sort off a break because they've seen quite a burden over the past few years in having to build new schools," Burke said.

In 1996, the York County Council approved an impact fee of $2,500 on new home construction.

In 1998, the state legislature no longer allowed impact fees, but the $2,500 fee was grandfathered in, according to the Fort Mill School District. In 2016, the state legislature changed state laws allowing impact fees again.

Burke says the county and district had a study done to determine how much of an impact fee would support the tremendous growth Fort Mill is experiencing.

He says following that study, the district requested county council to approve the maximum amount state law allows.

If council approves the request, a single family home would cost $18,158 in impact fees. A multi-unit dwelling would cost $12,020.

"This is only charged on people who live in the Fort Mill School District and on those who are building a new house," Burke said.

The fee would be imposed when the developer takes out a permit for construction, but school officials and real estate brokers say the new fee will get put on the homebuyer.

Michael O'Brien is a real estate broker with The O'Brien Group, licensed with Rhinehart Realty in the Fort Mill area. He says the fees will have the biggest impact on new home buyers.

"My concern is really for the first time home buyer, the police officer the firefighter and the school teacher," O'Brien said. "Those people who are working in Fort Mill, should be able to live in Fort Mill."

He says those on a tighter budget may look elsewhere for homes if they can get the same quality house, for $15,000 cheaper.

"Those homes aren't going to appraise higher so people aren't going to be able to get loans," O'Brien said.

The proposal passed the second reading at Wednesday night's county council reading. It will have to pass the third and final reading on July 16 to go into effect.

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