SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah is growing but with that growth comes the need for money to pay for city services. One source of revenue is impact fees.
The fees are a one-time charge to developers that cover building costs related to new growth.
City leaders are considering a new ordinance that will allow them to collect them.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson advocated for the fees at Tuesday’s press briefing.
“The reality is that we know that development is happening at a record pace, and we have to keep up with the development, ” says Johnson, “and, you know, when you have infrastructure that doesn’t keep up with development, then you have problems like we’re addressing now.”
According to data collected by the city in a methodology report released on Feb. 17, the population is expected to go up by 18% by 2045.
Mayor Johnson says the projected newcomers expect excellence when they come to the city, and this is their way of affording it.
“They expect, at least in closed proximity, a fire department, a police department. They expect recreation. They expect a variety of things,” he says.
District 1 Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier was instrumental in crafting the ordinance. She says the one-time payment is worth it.
“We’re trying to make sure that we do not have to raise taxes to pay for this—that the growth and development will offset some of this cost,” she tells News 3.
The ordinance says the fees are calculated on a case-by-case basis depending on the type of development and square footage.
“They’re in the neighbored of $3k, but we’re going to phase it in, and we’re probably going to start with 50% of that, and the next year have the full amount assessed,” says Lanier.
Lanier says she understands some of the possible pushback from her constituents.
“Developers who are building multiple facilities will probably see this as an intrusion, and pass the cost on to homebuyers,” she adds.
She still believes the ordinance will pass.
“I do believe council understands that this is a policy that we need, and we’re gonna see how it works,” she tells News 3.
The ordinance goes up for a second reading this Thursday and could be put to a vote.