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Madison residents have mixed views on proposed impact fees

City leaders say it will pay for infrastructure and public safety but others worry it will scare potential new residents away.

Posted: Feb 26, 2020 9:25 PM
Updated: Feb 26, 2020 10:41 PM

Almost $11,000. 

That's how much the city of Madison is considering adding to the cost of buying a new single-family home there. 

It's called an impact fee. City leaders say it will pay for infrastructure and public safety but others worry it will scare potential new residents away.

There was a real mixed bag of reactions from Madison residents at a Wednesday night hearing. Many are truly concerned the additional thousands of dollars will price out middle income families and push people away from moving to the city. Others said if the money fixes roads, it's worth it. 

"They're looking at a fee slightly under $11,000 for each new construction home built in area. It could also impact additions, they are also talking about commercial, nursing homes," said Sha Jarboe, a Realtor and President of Huntsville Area Association of Realtors. 

Jarboe thinks the proposed fee could impact new homebuyers. For multi-family units, the fee would be more than $6,000. 

"So that has a big effect, whether you are buying in an upper price range or lower price range, specifically we feel like it could effect the middle class trying to purchase a home in the city of Madison," Jarboe said. 

Mayor Paul Finley said the fee could bring in $55 million in revenue and help build the city.

Under the current proposal, this is how that money would be spent: 

Streets: $35,572,316

Parks and Recreation: $10,623,504

Fire Department: $3,855,155

Public Library: $1,934,862

Police Department: $2,650,899

Public Works: $1,239,263

Mary Beth Broeren, Director of Development Services, believes the fee will hurt future home and apartment construction projects.

"I do think that having an impact fee of the magnitude that's being discussed would have a very negative impact on those projects," Broeren said. 

Residents have mixed views, some think the fee is a good thing. 

"I feel that, current residents are going to have to pay for this growth in the future," Maryanna Scott, said. 

But others are worried it hurts more than helps.

"What you're doing is, you're actually excluding that lower income person out of the market here," Barry Oxley, said. 

Other fees would be applied to hotels and even commercial development. Tuscaloosa, Orange Beach, and Fairhope in Alabama have impact fees, but Madison's would be more expensive. 

The city council plans to vote on the impact fee in late March.

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