Horry County Council discusses adding impact fees to new home, business construction

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County leaders are looking at a way to pay about $200 million towards many different infrastructure projects.

Almost 75% of voters last year supported adding impact fees on new buildings in unincorporated parts of the county. Horry County Council is trying figure out how much that fee would cost and where that money would go.

The newly approved Imagine 2040 comprehensive plan projects 275,000 more people will move to the county over the next two decades.

“I’m thankful for the growth, but I want to see it be good, healthy, organized growth,” said council member Al Allen of Aynor.

That’s why county council is looking at whether to implement an impact fee, which is a one-time payment on new homes or businesses in all unincorporated parts of the county. The county projects impact fees would generate about $20 million each year. The impact fee would be in effect for ten years, which would raise an estimated $197,748,015.

New single- and multi-family homes would generate about $18 million annually, with the rest coming from businesses and other building types. Each single-family unit would cost $4,565, while each multi-family unit would cost $3,046.

Retailers would spend $7,439 for every 1,000 square feet of building space. Office space would cost $2,857 per 1,000 square feet. Industrial buildings would cost $1,155 per 1,000 square feet.

“Institutional” properties would cost $5,728 per 1,000 square feet. Hotels would spend $2,587 per room.

The impact fees would be the same in every unincorporated community, so the money can go towards projects in all areas.

“If we want to start breaking it down by service components and saying east and west should start charging different rates, then also we can only expend the money within those areas in which we collect the fees,” said county planning director David Schwerd.

The impact fee would fund an estimated $133,579,370 over ten years for road projects. They include a new interchange on South Carolina Highway 31 in Carolina Forest worth $70 million and $32 million to elevate portions of South Carolina Highway 90, as well as upgrading SC-90 near its intersection with Robert Edge Parkway.

The impact fee revenue would also contribute about $33,000,141 towards parks and recreation projects. That would include new rec centers in Aynor and Loris, which would cost $12 million each.

Several council members, however, say the impact fee needs to address the county’s flooding issues, especially after hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

“The biggest threat facing this county is our stormwater issues and this is something that we have to put at the front of the line,” Allen said.

“We want to make sure that stormwater is in this document,” said council member Harold Worley of North Myrtle Beach. “We need to let these taxpayers know out there, and the developers, that your project is not going to flood.”

An estimated $31,168,504 from ten years of impact fee revenue would go towards new public safety facilities. That money does not include hiring more employees for those departments.

Thursday’s discussion was part of the first day of council’s two-day fall budget retreat. At Friday morning’s meeting, council is expected to direct county administrator Steve Gosnell on how to prepare for implementing the impact fee.

The fee could go into effect on July 1 if it’s approved for next year’s budget.

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