Planning commission recommends 60% of requested impact fees
The Lancaster County Planning Commission voted Tuesday night to recommend that only 60% of the impact fees requested by the Lancaster County School District for the Indian Land schools be approved by the County Council. Publicly there has been little explanation from the planning commission on their decision. Also, while the planning commission will now pass along their recommendation to the county council, it is also a non-binding recommendation.
The Lancaster County School District hired a nationally recognized firm to study the coming needs in Indian Land. That firm then filed a report of what the growth needs in the Indian Land area will look like for the schools and also recommended what impact fee amount would be needed to cover growth. The planning commission voted to only recommend 60% of what was recommended by the firm.
Impact fees are a tool within South Carolina law that allows counties to charge a fee to a developer for each new house they wish to construct. For schools, those impact fees then help fund additional capital needs brought on by the new construction. Additionally, there are few ways in South Carolina to fund significant capital needs for schools except for bonds and impact fees. Due to Act 388, primary home taxes generally do not contribute to the local school district in South Carolina. Therefore, a new neighborhood with 500 homes would bring hundreds of children to the Indian Land schools but the homes themselves would not help fund new school construction without bonds and/or impact fees. On a personal note, if you are like myself and very concerned about the future needs of schools in the Indian Land area as growth continues at a rapid pace, please reach out to the county council and ask them to approve 100% of what an expert firm recommends. The impact fees would only be for new development in the Panhandle; however, it will take a majority vote of all of the county council (five of whom are outside of Indian Land) to allow the school district to charge the amount that the law allows, and that an exhaustive study shows Indian Land will need. It’s time the county ask developers to pay for the growth in Indian Land and not ask our children instead to suffer in the future.