Orange County may have to come up with a new way to help pay for school buildings as the legislature moves closer to repealing the county’s authority to levy impact fees on residential developers.
A bill repealing the impact fees loped easily through the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday with only a few dissenting votes.
A 1987 law authorized the charges on single- and multi-family homes. Orange is one of two counties in the state that has the authority to charge impact fees for schools.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sarah Stevens, a Republican from Mt. Airy, was motivated by fees charged the developer of Town House Apartments in Chapel Hill, which she said were too high.
After the House passed the bill, Orange County rolled back its fees and froze increases for one year. Orange County opposes the bill, and Board of Commissioners Chairman Mark Dorosin said the county should be allowed to continue charging fees while the legislature does a statewide study.
Tom Apodaca, formerly an influential senator and now a lobbyist for Town House Apartments, said the legislature should revoke the county’s authority.
“How would you let a bank robber stand and guard the safe?” he asked.
The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee.