Rockford Area REALTORS® advance impact fee moratorium
REALTORS® know that by working together with local governments and developers’ communities can spur smart growth and cultivate vibrant communities. We persevere through adversity. We never give up.
For the past 10 years, REALTORS® have encouraged Boone County to change course on impact fees, but conversations never progressed. However, the lack of inventory, increasing property taxes, and school enrollment decline are now more apparent than in prior years. REALTORS® understand that when competition from other jurisdictions allows consumers to obtain the same value for less money, it is essential for communities to consider maintaining competitiveness. Boone County has experienced sluggish growth, and inventory supply is squeezing entry-level housing for first-time homebuyers the hardest. The active and available inventory in Boone County is less than 50 homes, with an average median price of $200,000.
To deal with inventory challenges and compete with other communities, we encouraged local governments to bring the lack of housing inventory to the forefront of policy-making decisions and discuss impact fees. In December of 2020, Boone County Board members expressed interest in making a change, but how to move forward was the challenge.
Therefore, we helped create a task force comprising of two local school districts, the Boone County Conservation District, and the Belvidere Park District. We collectively worked together, and with a unified front, we moved forward to urge the Boone County Board to implement a two-year impact fee moratorium. Even with a unified front, we faced challenges because impact fees are a nuanced issue, and education was necessary for our advocacy success.
Impact fees were created as a growth control measure in areas growing so rapidly local government bodies could not provide public facilities and infrastructure fast enough. These fees are one-time charges applied to new developments, and local governments can only use them for new capital infrastructure needs due to the impact of new development. Also, charging these fees affects the number of new construction housing starts. Boone County is not facing rapid growth. It is not growing, and the current infrastructure can support growth.
We worked diligently to address board members’ questions and concerns about a loss of revenue from these fees. Finally, on February 17, 2021, the county held a public hearing to amend the subdivision code to implement a two-year impact fee moratorium. Through a slew of negative public comments about REALTORS® and developers looking for deals to further their own monetary interests, we stood resilient. We remained professional. We defended the facts, because #ThatsWhoWeR. The two-year impact fee moratorium passed by a vote of 10 – 2. REALTORS® feel fortunate to live and work in the communities they serve, and we look forward to the positive growth and quality of life changes this moratorium will bring to benefit Boone County’s vibrant rural community.