County, Realtors At Odds Over Proposed Impact Fee

Posted at 6:43 PM, Nov 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-14 20:06:26-05

Williamson County commissioners will vote on a proposed tax that would charge home builders a fee to construct new residential properties.

The so-called impact fee was spearheaded by Commissioner Todd Kaestner to help Williamson County schools. Builders would have to pay a one-time fee between $2,000 to $16,000 depending on the square footage when obtaining a  permit.

The idea was to help facilitate the growing population within the Williamson County School District. The county anticipate the population to double in the next 15 years and would see an additional 38,000 public school students.

"What attracts people to Williamson County is our public schools, it's one of the top rated schools in the state and we aim to stay that way," Kaestner told NewsChannel 5.

Kaestner said the cost of building more schools will exceed $1 billion. He said the feel will enable the county to avoid a $400 million of additional debt, but would still need to borrow the rest. The county is currently in a $550 million debt.

"Understand that residential development does not cover the costs of the burden it creates," Kaestner added. "That burden is borne by all of the county taxpayers.

Developers have used the school system as the prime marketing tool to sell homes, so Kaestner believes they should pitch in too.

"They are selling our schools, it seems appropriate they should help fund them," Kaestner said.

However, the Williamson County Association of Realtors find the proposed plan is unfair. President David Logan said the school district already benefits majority of the county's budget and local taxes.

"Everybody benefits from that same school system, everybody's home values are up, we all benefit, and we all got to pay for it," Logan suggested.

The association questioned the legalities of the the impact fee and has reached out to the state attorney general for an opinion.

Logan told NewsChannel 5 said if it passes, it will only be a disadvantage to potential future residents.

"We're going to start pricing ourselves out of the market," Logan said. "People that want to come to work for these great companies in Williamson County are not able to afford."

The final vote was scheduled at 7pm on Monday, November 14 in Franklin.