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General Information

What is an impact fee?
The charge or fee levied or imposed on new development in connection with and as a
condition of the issuance of a building permit to fund a portion of the costs of capital
improvements for a public facility or service.

Who granted the authority to adopt impact fees?
The authority of a county to adopt impact fees is granted under:
WEST VIRGINIA CODE
CHAPTER 7. COUNTY COMMISSIONS AND OFFICERS.
ARTICLE 20. FEES AND EXPENDITURES FOR COUNTY DEVELOPMENT.

West Virginia State Code Chapter 7, Article 20 – “Local Powers Act”

It is known as the “Local Powers Act.” The purpose is to “provide for the fair distribution of costs for county development by authorizing the assessment and collection of fees to offset the cost of commercial and residential development within affected counties.”

In order for a county to be allowed to adopt impact fees, there are several requirements or prerequisites, which are outlined in §7-20-6. Criteria and requirements necessary to implement collection of fees. They include, but are not limited to the following:
 

  • An initial growth rate of at least of 1% averaged over a 5 year period.
  • Adoption of a countywide comprehensive plan.
  • Adoption of a zoning ordinance.
  • Adoption of a subdivision ordinance.
  • Adoption & enforcement of the state building code.
  • Maintain a capital improvement plan.

Why are we using impact fees?
Impact Fees are imposed to offset costs to the County associated with providing
necessary public facilities and services, the demand for which is created by new
development.

Has the impact fee ordinance been passed and by whom?
The impact fee procedures ordinance was passed on November 6, 2003. The following table lists the effective dates of the various fee ordinances.

How much are the impact fees?
Presently there are four impact fee categories in effect: Schools, Law Enforcement,
Parks & Recreation, and EMS. The actual fee amount varies depending on type of
residential dwelling unit or type and overall size of commercial development. Please
contact the Office of Impact Fees at (304) 728-3331 to obtain the current fee schedule.

What is the impact fee based on?
The impact fees were derived from analysis performed by a consultant who is an expert
in the field of impact fee calculation.

Where is the impact fee office located?
The Impact Fee Coordinator Office is located at 116 E. Washington Street, Charles
Town, West Virginia.

 

When Impact Fees Apply

Who pays impact Fees?
Impact fees are assessed and paid on New Residential Dwellings at the time of obtaining a building permit.  The fee amounts vary depending on the type of dwelling:  single-family, duplex, mobile/manufactured home, townhouse, multi-family/apartment building.  See the current fee schedule for the amounts.

Commercial/Industrial Development also pays impact fees for law enforcement and emergency medical services only.  The fees are assessed and paid at the time of obtaining a building permit.  The fees vary depending on the type/use of the structure and the size.  For calculation of the Commercial Impact Fee, please contact the Impact Fees Program Specialist.

Applicants will receive an Impact Fee application at the time they request an application for a Building Permit. Although building permits may be processed in parallel with the task of processing the impact fee payment, no Building Permit may be released until the Department of Engineering receives notice that either (1) the applicant qualified for and paid an impact fee or (2) the applicant was exempt from payment of impact fees.

Building Permit and Impact Fee applications may be picked up at the Engineering Department, located at 116 E. Washington Street, Suite 100, Charles Town, WV  25414. The processing of building permits and impact fee applications requires separate checks for payment.  Checks shall be made payable to the “Jefferson County Commission.”

Are impact fees on both residential and commercial development?
It depends upon the fee category. Schools and Parks & Recreation are only levied on new
residential development. Law Enforcement and EMS fees are levied on both
residential and commercial development.

Do I have to pay impact fees for an addition to my house or business?
Impact fees are not imposed for additions such as a deck, porch, garage, addition or
deletion of a room or other similar type changes. An impact fee will be imposed for an
additional room or rooms connected together, constituting a separate, independent
housekeeping establishment for occupancy.

I live in a municipality and am going to build a dwelling; do I have to pay impact
fees? If so, where do I pay and where do I get my building permit?

Yes, residential development within a municipality pays each of the fee categories except
law enforcement. This is because the municipalities each maintain separate police
departments. You pay at the Jefferson County Impact Fee Office and file your permit
application with the municipality.

If a building permit has been applied for but not issued, does the impact fee still
get charged?

Fee collection for any fee category must, by State law, be delayed 60 days from the fee
ordinance enactment date. If you apply for a building permit during this delay period and
do not receive your building permit until after the end of this period, you will be
responsible for payment of that impact fee.

If you have applied for a building permit but something comes up during the
process and the permit is not issued until after the date the impact fee starts, will
an impact fee be charged?

See the previous answer.

If a house burns down and a new house is built in its place, is an impact fee
charged?

No impact fee will be charged if a house burns down or is destroyed if a house is built on
the same lot. However, a building permit will still be required. Reconstruction must meet
all other applicable local, state and federal laws.

If a mobile home is being replaced by another mobile home or double wide, will
the impact fee be charged?

No impact fee will be charged if replaced within 3 years. Some evidence will need to be
submitted showing that the mobile home was habitable.

If a mobile home is being replaced by a house rather than a mobile home, will the
impact fee be charged?

No impact fee will be charged if replaced within 3 years. Some evidence will need to be
submitted showing that the mobile home was habitable.

If a mobile home is moved from a parcel of land prior to a permit being filed for a
new/different mobile home, does the impact fee apply?

No impact fee will be charged if replaced within 3 years. Some evidence will need to be
submitted showing that the mobile home was habitable.

I was issued a building permit before impact fees but now have to change my
house plans, do I have to pay an impact fee?

No.

 

Process of Application

Will I have to go to several locations to complete the process of filing a permit
application?

Yes, although the Office of Engineering and the Office of Impact Fees are both on the
Court House block in downtown Charles Town.

How long is the process for a building permit and when does the impact fee get
charged?

A building permit must be issued within 21 day of application. The impact fee must be
paid prior to the issuance of a building permit.

When do wells have to be drilled before the impact fee gets charged?
Health Department approval for well permits and septic permits must be submitted at the
time of application for a building permit. The well also must be drilled prior to the
application for a building permit. Impact fees are paid prior to issuance of a building
permit.

 

Payment of Fees

Who is responsible for paying the fee?
The impact fee must be paid prior to the issuance of a building permit. It is required that
appropriate arrangements be made to remit the fees.

When do I have to pay impact fees?
Prior to issuance of a building permit.

Where should I go to pay the impact fee?
Jefferson County Office of Impact Fees located at 116 E. Washington Street, Charles
Town, West Virginia.

Do the fees include the cost for building permits and inspections?
No, all other fees are imposed and collected separately.

What methods are available for me to pay the impact fee?
Cash or check prior to issuance of a building permit.

Can impact fee payments be made in installments?
No, impact fees must be paid in full prior to issuance of a building permit.

If I disagree with the fee calculation, can I appeal? If so, how and where?
Appeals are made to the County Commission of Jefferson County on forms provided by
the Impact Fee Coordinator.

Can I get an impact fee exemption/waiver? If so, what is eligible?
You would file a petition according to Section 5 (A) of the Impact Fee Procedures
Ordinance. Such petition may or may not be granted by the County Commission of
Jefferson County.

Can I get an offset or credit for donated land, facilities etc? If so, how do I obtain
the credits or offsets?

Yes, the determination is made by the Impact Fee Coordinator.

How are credits or offsets applied?
By the Impact Fee Coordinator and other County staff for recommendation to the County
Commission as determined by an agreement with the County Commission.

 

Fee Usage

What can impact fees be used for?
Fees may only be expended on capital items (costing more than $20,000 and with life
expectancies of 3 or more years). Fees may only be spent for construction projects and
items which represent expansion of a particular service, not for improvements in the
overall quality of that service.

Who or what determines where the impact fee will be spent and for what public
services?

Impact fee funds may be appropriated for capital improvements and for the payment of
principal, interest and other financing costs on obligations of County Government to
finance public facilities and public service expenditures. Impact fees may not be
appropriated for maintenance or repair of public facilities or for operation or personnel
expenditures. Impact fees shall only be appropriated for projects identified in the County
Capital Improvement Plan.

Give me a break down, how are funds spent?
Funds are generally used for capital improvements such as new facilities and equipment and/or the expansion of existing facilities, all necessitated by new growth and development.  The following are the capital categories for each impact fee entity:

  • Schools:
    • Purchase of Land
    • Construction or expansion of elementary, middle and high schools
    • Construction or expansion of administrative offices, maintenance shops and bus garage
  • Parks & Recreation:
    • Purchase of Land
    • Park Improvements and Recreation Facilities
    • Vehicles & Maintenance Equipment
  • Law Enforcement:
    • Vehicles
    • Equipment
    • Buildings and Land
  • EMS:
    • Vehicles & Equipment
    • Debt Service on the new EMS Facility (pay off mortgage)

What are some typical projects that utilize impact fees?
The following are examples of past capital improvements that were partially or fully funded with impact fees:

  • Schools:
    • New Elementary School at Breckenridge
    • South Jefferson Elementary School Expansion
    • Harpers Ferry Middle School Addition
    • Construction of Washington High School
    • Purchase of land and expansion of School Bus Garage
  • Parks & Recreation:
    • Improvements at Sam Michaels Park
    • Purchase of Hite Road Park Land
    • Hite Road Park Improvements (soccer fields, walking trail, etc)
    • Parks Master Plan
    • Fitness Equipment
    • Mowing Equipment and Pickup Trucks
  • Law Enforcement:
    • Purchase of Police Cruisers for Sheriff’s Deputies
    • Purchase of Police Cruiser Equipment
  • EMS:
    • Advanced Life Support Chase Vehicle
    • Purchase of Ambulance
    • Debt Service on the new EMS Facility (pay off mortgage)

Will the fee build all of the new schools?
No, other funding will be necessary in conjunction with impact fees.

If we have impact fees, do we still need a school bond?
Impact fees may only fund capacity expansion which is in concert with growth. For
quality improvements in the school system, other funding sources must be identified.

Will the fees be reduced if the school bond is passed or the State provides more
funding for new schools?

If a school bond is passed, the fees must be adjusted for future real payments of that
portion of real property taxes which pays for principal payments on public school bonds.
This credit only applies if the building or buildings funded by a bond are included in the
current school impact fee calculation.

Are there impact fees other than for schools? Currently, Impact Fees are collected
for Schools, Law Enforcement, Parks & Recreation, and EMS.

How will I know where the money is being spent?
Annual reports provided by the County Commission. A fee payer may also contact the
Office of Impact Fees. In this case, please have your 7-digit process number available.
This number appears in the upper right of Forms 100, 170, and 190.

How long before the fee must be spent on improvements?
Within six (6) years after the date of collection, unless such time period is extended for
extraordinary or compelling reasons.

If the impact fee collected is not used within the six years, do I get a refund? If
so, how?

The current property owner may apply for a refund. The County will notify the current
property owner of the right to apply for a refund. The applicant for refund must file for a
refund within one (1) year and submit evidence that the applicant is the property owner.

 

Other Questions

What is being done about low income housing and affordable housing?
The Jefferson County Commission is working to provide a mechanism to provide
assistance for affordable housing.

Will the fees increase the cost of housing or property taxes?
The cost of housing will most likely increase. As properties are assessed, property taxes
may increase with the increase in the assessed value of the property.

Where can I find additional information about impact fees?
Impact fee ordinances and related material may be reviewed on the Jefferson County
Website at www.jeffersoncountywv.org, by calling the Impact Fee Coordinator at
304.728.3331, or by visiting the Office of Impact Fees at 116 E. Washington Street,
Charles Town, West Virginia.