As rising housing costs continue to confound developers and buyers, it remains important for citizens to understand the makeup of those costs – especially if those costs seem arbitrary or unnecessarily burdensome.
Providing some context about what goes into your housing costs is exactly what part two of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s study on Georgia’s development impact fees aims to do.
In the first part of the study, released in October 2022, we provided a comprehensive list of all existing development impact fees in Georgia. Local governments levy impact fees on new development projects in order to pay for local infrastructure such as roads and water treatment.
The data we gathered were instructive to say the least. Why, for example, do counties with similar populations, demographics and economies often charge wildly different impact fees? This new study provides more context, where there is context to be found, on these matters.
We look at trends that have developed in recent years, such as the impact fee “arms race” that has taken place around metro Atlanta. Increases in impact fee rates, starting with Cherokee County’s in 2000, seemingly caused neighboring jurisdictions to follow suit, which has led to these areas having some of the highest rates in the state.
We also answer the question of what this could mean for you in an in-depth analysis of how impact fees affect communities. This includes data on fees relative to median income, revealing potentially unforeseen risks even in communities where rent and housing is traditionally affordable.
We hope this new study will further inform the effort to make housing more affordable in Georgia, as well as inform readers about an often overlooked aspect of housing costs. We will release a third and final section of the impact fee study that inspects the transparency with which local governments use impact fees and their compliance with state guidelines.
While impact fees are a useful developmental tool if used properly, Georgia’s citizens, lawmakers and administrators should continuously monitor just how properly they are currently being utilized.
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