Dick Smith is a member of the Aiken City Council.
1. How would traffic-impact fees affect growth in the community?
"Actually, many people say that it would have a negative impact on growth, and that has been sort of a national attitude. But, actually, there's been very little history of impact fees that makes that point. I don't think, if administered properly, impact fees will have an impact on growth. Impact fees are to make certain that the tax burden for the infrastructures needed to support the growth does not fall on current taxpayers."
2. How would they affect small businesses?
"The premise is, how do you define a small business. And we've heard perhaps a doctor's office, and dental clinics is one of those things that has come up. Based on one of the estimates we have, something like $80,000 in impact fees would be paid. And as a percentage, it's not as great as it seems. If you use an impact fee, it's based on a number of trips per day that it generates."
3. How would impact fees affect relationships between current residents and new residents?
"I don't think it's going to have much of a bearing at all on new residents coming to Aiken as part of the building process. The rough figure would be about $1,000. A thousand dollars added to getting a building permit is not a significant amount to them, but it can be significant to the municipalities."
4. Are there any other ways to pay for road improvements?
"Absolutely. In fact, there are what are called municipal improvement districts, which is something we can look at. It is an impact fee but it is specifically aimed at an immediate area. We already have been taking some funds from the one-cent sales tax, and, of course, the (Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce) has recommended that. But that can't be the only source. The main thing that we have to remember is that we already are behind the eight ball, and so there are projects that have been approved or have been built that probably should have paid an impact fee, but didn't."
5. How can the city work with the county to ease traffic problems?
"In fact, city-county cooperation is absolutely essential to impact fees. Most of the road construction that is needed is in the county now."
Next week, David Jameson, the president and chief executive officer of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, will offer a different view on impact fees in response to the same questions.
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