Rutherford County’s Growth Challenge: Seeking Solutions Through Impact Fees

Rutherford County is one of Tennessee’s fastest-growing counties, with nine to 10,000 new citizens added each year.

However, this growth comes with it a slew of new difficulties, such as the need for new schools and roads, which the county lacks the resources to solve.

County officials are requesting the ability to levy impact fees on new construction, which they claim will allow them to provide better services to existing and new residents.

However, not everyone believes that impact fees are the ideal option, and others are concerned that they would raise taxes and property prices in the future.

The Case For Impact Fees

County Mayor Joe Carr stated that the county is doing more with less and that it requires assistance from state legislators to deal with the expansion.

He believes that impact fees are a fair method to ask new people to contribute to the expansion of services such as schools, roads, parks, and public safety.

“We are asking these people who are moving here, the nine to 10,000 new residents every year, to participate in the funding of the expansion over those services,” he said.

Rutherford County's Growth Challenge: Seeking Solutions Through Impact Fees

The county just developed a website with a petition to demonstrate to politicians that residents want impact fees.

Carr stated that the website has garnered over 2,000 signatures in two weeks, which he believes reflects favorably on where Rutherford County residents stand on this subject.

He stated that the website will remain operational until the end of the Tennessee General Assembly and that he expects to gain the support of the delegation in order to enact legislation granting the county the ability to impose impact fees.

The Opposition To Impact Fees

However, not everyone agrees on the concept of impact fees. According to Rutherford County Property Assessor Rob Mitchell, impact fees would not prevent future tax increases but would instead be a component of them.

He expressed concern about the county’s transparency with citizens, and he thinks that they will feel misled and lied to when their property values and taxes rise in the subsequent re-evaluation.

“We will have these impact fees and in two years time when we conduct our next re-evaluation,” he said.

“People will see their property values increase, and they’re likely going to see their property taxes increase, and they will feel like they have been mislead and lied to.”

Mitchell said he understands the reasoning behind impact fees, but he believes other choices can help the county’s financial situation.

He challenged everyone to think about how to make the government function smarter and better for residents because that is what they elected them to do.

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The Future of Rutherford County

Carr, on the other hand, stated that allowing the county the right to apply impact fees will help them get a handle on Rutherford County’s expansion and that if the county cannot persuade lawmakers to support this, he has other ideas in the works.

He stated that he is confident that the county will continue to expand and prosper and that he wishes to ensure that the citizens’ quality of life is maintained and improved.

“We need help,” he said. “Hopefully with the delegation’s help and support along with this website, maybe we can get to the place where we can have the same set of tools as other counties and other cities within Rutherford County.”

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