Impact Fee FAQ
What is an impact fee?
In 1990, the Georgia Development Impact Fee Act (DIFA) was enacted into law, and it significantly affected the way local governments in Georgia pay for public services and facilities. Impact fees are one-time fees charged to land developers to help defray the costs of expanding capital facilities to serve new growth. DIFA enables local governments to charge new development for a proportionate share of infrastructure capacity it requires. However, the Act places restrictions on the categories of capital facilities for which new development can be charged. It also establishes rules under which impact fees must be calculated, collected, expended, accounted for, and administered.
What was Savannah’s process in establishing impact fees?
In January 2022, the City Council appointed seven members to serve on the Development Impact Fee Advisory Committee to assist and advise City Council on the adoption of a development impact fee ordinance. Since the committee was advisory, no action of the committee was considered a necessary prerequisite for municipal or county action in regard to adoption of an ordinance. Members of the committee included Jim Collins, Monica Mastrianni, Tomeca McPherson, Melissa Phillips, Pat Shay, Dwayne Stephens, and Bryan Wardlaw.
The City completed a Methodology Report which contains growth forecasts and identifies capital projects needed to meet the City’s Level of Service standards. It also presents calculations related to establishing the maximum impact fees that could be charged for the public facility categories which includes:
- Parks and recreation to include a trail system;
- Fire protection;
- Law enforcement; and
- Road improvements.
The information provided in the Methodology Report comprises the Capital Improvements Element (CIE). Prior to its adoption as part of the Chatham-Savannah Comprehensive Plan (2040 Plan), the document was reviewed by the Coastal Regional Commission (CRC) and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to ensure consistency with the Development Impact Fee Compliance Requirements and to allow for the submission of comments. In January 2023, DCA notified the City that the revised CIE adequately addressed the State’s requirements.
On February 23, 2023, the City Council adopted the CIE which amended the 2040 Plan, Development Impact Fee Ordinance, and affordable housing exemptions. The impact fee program goes into effect on July 1, 2023.
How does the phased implementation process work?
City Council adopted a three-year phased implementation of the impact fee program based on the following schedule:
- Year 1: 50% of maximum impact fee ($1,965 for a single family home)
- Year 2: 75% of maximum impact fee ($2,948 for a single family home)
- Year 3: 100% of maximum impact fee ($3,931 for a single family home)
What exemptions are available for affordable housing?
City Council adopted an exemption for the development of affordable housing. If funding is available, affordable housing is eligible for a 25% reduction in the payment of impact fees based on the following standards:
- Housing developed using Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and similarly financed housing that has long term affordability requirements imposed by the federal, state, or local governments;
- Housing developed using local, state or federal funds that have a deed restricted affordability period of at least 15 years;
- The development of single family or two-family dwellings in federally designated Opportunity Zones;
- Any of the three exemptions listed above, except for those properties that shall be owner occupied for a period of five years, must comply with these additional requirements:
- Rents as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that are at or below Fair Market Rents (FMRs) for a period of 15 years with deed restrictions as approved by the City Manager; or
- Sale price of homes that are at or below 80% of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) limits for a period of 15 years with deed restrictions as approved by the City Manager.