It’s that time of the year again. Our county commission is scurrying to find a way to come up with the money needed to fund the requests from all the departments that provide the services and infrastructure for our citizens. This may be no small feat in an election year where all commission seats are up for grabs. It has been several decades since anyone has seen such interest in the election of our county commissioners.
It looks like the commission is leaning toward a deed transfer fee. From what I hear on the street and read, the county commission thinks this will raise the needed money and relieve the county of its money woes. Right now, the only thing standing in the way is getting a nod of approval from the folks in Nashville and …bingo! We’re into money!
But wait a minute; what about this deed transfer fee? Is there a better alternative? And just for humor’s sake let’s ask, “ Does the end justify the means”?
As it now stands, the commission is proposing adding a fee to all deeds that are transferred. Speculation has it that the fee will have a maximum of $1,000 for each deed depending upon the type and amount of the deed transferred.
As good country folk would say, “ I think there are a couple of hairs in the biscuit somewhere!” First, aren’t the fine folks in the Register of Deeds office currently performing this service now? Why would we assess an additional fee for a government service already being provided? Second, I thought the reason for the needed tax revenue was so our county departments and schools could keep up with the growth. Shouldn’t the growth bring with it the necessary revenue to sustain itself? And third, some people even question whether or not, the additional deed transfer fee would generate the needed revenue to support continued growth in our county. Could this be a patch to get us through the election and then back to the status quo?
What happened to the concept of an impact fee like those used by many municipalities across the country? This fee is placed up front on any new development to “cash flow” the initial impact placed upon government services until the taxes are accrued and put into the operating budgets of the various departments. This would help keep the tax burden off the elderly and long-time residents. The amount of the fee would correspond with the impact any new development has on our county government no matter the size. The money would be pre-allocated by percentage of the overall county budget. And think, we could even set some aside to preserve green spaces or for a countywide park system if we wanted?
Shouldn’t the growth pay for itself? Shouldn’t the growth bring with it more benefits than consequences? Well, it looks like the easy answer will be…”Come here Fee Fee.”