Commissioners Vote to Eliminate Education Impact Fees

Home builders will not have to pay education impact fees for at least two years.

The voted 3 to 2 to temporarily "reduce the education portion of impact fees to zero" for two years retroactively from June 15, 2012, according to a county government news release.

Director of Management and Budget Ted Zaleski said that by law the county can only use the educational impact fees it collects to provide the capacity to serve growth.

Builders of new homes pay impact fees with the goal of having new development pay for itself. The impact fees allow the county to expand services (e.g. build new schools) to meet demand so that both new and existing residents are provided with the same level of service.

Zaleski said there are limits on how long the county can hold collected impact fees and currently there are no appropriate capital projects planned.

Since this money is highly restricted, the county is prohibited from using it for other educational expenses such as increased staff, facility maintenance or improvement or any non-capacity related expenditure, according to a county government news release.

The timing of the fee reduction will not affect the building or completion of the Mount Airy Middle School project.

Commissioner Doug Howard voted against the reduction and cited concern that this change is premature in light of the comprehensive facilities study being conducted by the Board of Education to determine whether any county schools should be closed in light of declining enrollments.

“The study should be concluded before we make this change; if a school or two is closed, available capacity will shrink, then when enrollments increase need for additional school capacity will be heightened simply because we will have fewer schools to accommodate the additional students," Howard said.

The impact fee associated with parks will remain intact. 


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Buck Harmon August 24, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Great news, let's lower the already very low building code requirements for these greed driven developers as well, so that they can throw up even more very low quality plastic shacks throughout Carroll without oversight. At this point any effort that adds to the profit margin of the kind of developing that has taken place in Carroll over the last 25 years is a huge dis service to the citizens. Carroll County has some of the crappiest looking developments in the region...plastic shacks built to the lowest standards possible. Perceived leadership is working ass backwards on this one as well, hope the campaign contributions are worth it.
Buck Harmon August 24, 2012 at 12:11 PM
There's no wonder about why folks have stopped moving to Carroll and school enrollment is down....this after Shoemaker put the hard push on the need for the huge new school in Hampstead that is only utilizing half of it's capacity....such dummies..squandering taxpayer dollars at every turn.
David J Iacono August 24, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Given the quality of our county commissioners and Carroll delegation, I can see why they get no respect or attention in Annapolis even when they come up with the rare good idea of local table game gambling for non-profits. A sad state of affairs in Carroll County.
Commissioner R Rothschild August 25, 2012 at 03:19 AM
State regulations prohibit us from using these impact fees for anything other than expansion of school facilities to meet the needs of increasing student populations. However, our student enrollments have been declining for five years, and are forecasted (by the BOE) to continue to decline for at least five more years. Furthermore, we already have more than 4,000 empty seats in our school system. That's right- 4,000 empty seats! We cannot justify continuing to collect impact fees. There is simply no way to use them, and the law requires that we refund them if not used within a timely manner. Eliminating impact fees was not just the right thing to do, it was the ONLY thing to do. It is unconscienable to continue this tax at a time when the entire system is too large and needs to be reduced to a more affordable size. I urge all citizens to support a responsible and modest redistricting of our schools. We cannot continue to tax our citizens to pay for a system that is larger than needed. -Commissioner Richard Rothschild
Buck Harmon August 25, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Then why on earth did Shoemaker push so darn hard for the huge School in Hampstead that can't possibly be used to capacity, claiming that this had to happen immediately? The school that came in way over budget and is only used at half capacity. How about the use, abuse of Eminent Domain for a perceived lack of water that has never been proven to be needed? Same logic as the school? These are the kind of decisions that only cater to developers~ my developer friend. Would you hold a fellow Commissioner accountable for violating the private property rights of the owner of the Golf Course? This is another example of weak leadership costing taxpayers over a million dollars in un justified legal expenses, and it's still tickin...haven't heard much about that crime lately have you Richard? I don't believe that you've done the best that you could with this one..no matter the spin...greed driven developers win.
tiptop August 25, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Did a Commissioner from Carroll County say "the right thing to do"???? WOW...
Commissioner R Rothschild August 25, 2012 at 03:15 PM
This has little to do with developers. Many homes built in this county are by owner-occupants that are struggling to improve the quality of life for their families. This includes blue-collar tradespeople, retail employees, teachers, emergency service personnel and small business people. Commissioner Shoemaker demonstrated courage and leadership by voting to suspend this tax. -Commissioner Richard Rothschild
Buck Harmon August 25, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Total typical BS coming from you Richard, that is a lie. The vast majority of the plastic shack homes that have been thrown up throughout Carroll were built by a few select developers, to deny that fact, is in fact a lie. I don't buy the political grey zone illusions that you seem so aptly to participate in....the tea party sheeple may buy into that crap but when you make a dumb statement like,"This has little to do with developers", and "Many homes built in this county are by owner-occupants",these statements hardly share the truth about who built the majority of the homes in Carroll. You play to this illusion because the apathetic majority don't seem to know or care about the truth. Please share your thoughts about the use of Eminent Domain for the Hampstead land grab that was orchestrated by your hero Shoemaker... You speak to the Constitution as a matter of convenience to muster votes but where the rubber meets the road I would have to assume that you are a showboat perceived Constitutional-est that selectively applies laws that fulfill your agenda. There is no courage associated with poor leadership that in this case has been purchased by developers much like yourself. If you can't speak to the issues that I have pointed out here I'll accept your surrender.
newsjunkie August 26, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Mr. Rothschild is a relative newcomer to Carroll County. He did not live here nor did he have children in the system during the time Carroll County struggled to build schools to meet the need created by exploding residential development. Rothschild lacks the understanding of the past necessary to make decisions regarding the importance of timing school construction to address the growing population before it reaches crisis levels.
Buck Harmon August 26, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Commissioner Rothschild entered this blog with opinions attempting to justify the votes of the board. When his opinions on this and several other related issues were questioned or challenged, for some reason he disappeared. An honest and sound elected public servant should have the ability to complete the debate in a public forum such as this without falter. Rothschild has demonstrated his narrow focus to the issues by surrender to the topic apparently. Would the local Tea party approve of this type of failure? Again, I challenge by request, that you address the issues brought forward in this blog that you entered into. Commissioner Haven Shoemaker should also address the issues in this open public forum as well....FAT chance of that happening though..
WestMonster August 27, 2012 at 06:04 PM
First of all, saying it's a "tax" is misleading. It's a fee charged to developers to ensure the County can improve public facilities to meet demands imposed by new development. The citizen has to pay for school improvements one way or another, so the law allows a charge against new development to support it's impact. Calling it a tax makes it sound like another burden bourn by the individual. Second, how many of the 4,000 "extra" seats are at NCHS and MVHS? Looks like at least 1000. Most of the growth in the county is int he Eldersburg/Sykesville area, and there are schools there that exceed 100% and have several portables (as many as 14 @ Carrolltowne ES) How much money is spent on buying/maintaining/replacing postables vs adding on to the school? Third, once you remove a fee like this from the equation, it never comes back. they say it's only for two years, but if/when development picks up, no Commissioners will support bringing this back. Last, is redistricting the answer? it might help, but the capacity at all three levels is in the areas N and W of Westminster while the schools that need relief are in the S and E. This would not be an easy or popular redistricting. I would rather have seen the developers get the refund for unused money than have the fee "suspended".
Commissioner R Rothschild August 28, 2012 at 03:51 AM
(1) An Impact fee is ultimately passed-through to the owner-occupant that purchases the house. So yes, it is paid by the individual; (2) We have 2000 excess seats in elementary schools, 800 empty seats in middle schools, and 2000 empty seats in high schools. (3) Redistricting will enable us to make better use of the available space without building more schools. (4) At what point is it time to put a lid on escalating education expenses and half empty buildings? The cost of a public education in Carroll County is now higher than a premium private school such as Gerstell Academy... We can't afford to keep paying for empty space; (5) I believe eminent domain is an act of last resort, and only when government needs land for legitimate public purposes. Because I defend Haven Shoemaker does not mean I agree with all of his decisions, but I do respect him, and believe he comes down on the right side of most issues; (6) I respectfully suggest that State mandated tiers and regulations are infinitely more dangerous to our constitutional rights than eminent domain. In eminent domain, at least you get something for your property; On the other hand, with PlanMD and tiers there is no due process, no just compensation; and arguably no public purpose... just theft of rights by government. (6) Finally, there IS much to learn in this job and decisions are complex. I always endeavor to evaluate issues from multiple perspectives. -Commissioner Richard Rothschild
Buck Harmon August 28, 2012 at 12:49 PM
I respect the fact that you are willing to communicate in an open forum such as this Richard. Regarding the elimination of education Impact Fees, I believe that three of the Commissioners made a very bad decision that had an underlying intent that would first cater to the developers. I don't believe that future education opportunities were given equal consideration and still believe that a much better job should have~ could have been done. Regarding Shoemaker and the pre- mature use of Eminent Domain, You have obviously not done any homework on this very serious Constitutional issue.To defend this behavior without facts is Constitutionally irresponsible. The Town of Hampstead has never used over 50% of the water that they are allowed to pump from existing wells and therefore have always maintained a considerable back up water source without fear of any type of shortage.Additionally, the Town under Shoemakers perceived leadership did not exhaust all other options to search for water on town owned property before hap hazardously jumping on the Eminent Domain opportunity. This is the reason that a Jury against Hampstead, and for the private property owner initially. .Next a corrupt, retired Judge from Howard Co. was brought in to overturn the Juries decision...bad lawyers and judges violate the Constitution all the time by manipulating their interpretation of law to fit the needs of, in this case, bad government action. continued..
Buck Harmon August 28, 2012 at 01:05 PM
In the initial case the Carroll County Judge that heard it made the decision regarding the use of Eminent Domain...not the Jury. The Jury did not agree with the Judge and made it known with the amount of money that would have to be paid to the private property owner in order to take the land and well. The corrupt, retired judge over ruled the jury! and lessened the amount to a figure that did not even cover fair market value, let alone the massive legal expenses associated. Currently this case has been taken to a higher court of corruption that could take over a year to be heard,,,,mums the word from Hampstead public servant officials , and Shoemaker~ the Commissioner as well. The taxpayers, and private property owner get screwed with literally millions of dollars in legal expenses when this is said and done, and most likely, will not have the additional water needed for the expansion of development in Hampstead. The truthful and real reason for this tragedy to the public is to assist the developer that owns property adjoining the golf course. Very poor example of corrupt perceived leadership.
Buck Harmon August 28, 2012 at 01:13 PM
In this case...Eminent Domain was far from a means of last resort. If you can support this type of dangerous behavior in any way , then I would have to seriously question your use of the Constitution in the political arena. There can be no double standards or grey area's associated with the Constitution of the United States Richard. This stinks from the get go and you know it ! The need to cover his butt is not understood.
Buck Harmon August 28, 2012 at 01:21 PM
If we can't stop out of control, bad government at the low level of corporate town leadership, then where should we begin? Next topic should be the Old Hampstead School illusion....lots to expose about this one....notice how Nevin and Shoemaker can never muster up what it takes to participate in open public forums such as this....??
Buck Harmon August 28, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Regarding empty school seats Commissioner Rothschild, How many of them are at the huge new high school that Shoemaker insisted was needed, and pushed hard to make happen at pretty much any expense to the taxpayers? Can you muster up those numbers?
Commissioner R Rothschild August 29, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Buck- To answer your two questions.. (1) I believe eminent domain should only be used as an instrument of absolute LAST resort for a compelling public need; and (2) Both Manchester High School and North Carroll High School are each operating at about 52 to 55% capacity. -Commissioner Richard Rothschild
Buck Harmon August 29, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Thank you Richard.
Buck Harmon August 29, 2012 at 02:49 AM
It would be of great public service if Patch could do a follow up on the Hampstead Eminent Domain issue, as well as the reason that the Manchester High School had to be built so urgently. Taxpayers have been , and are still being taken for a ride on both of these issues.


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