Letter: Lowering impact fees impacts us all

By on October 14, 2009

I note with horror that the folks in Sugar Grove are pondering a massive reduction in the building impact fees for their community (published in the Sept. 17 Elburn Herald).

Roughly translated, that means they would like the citizens of everywhere else to subsidize some housing development to the tune of $4,500 a pop. Kane County taxes are already twice what they are in the surrounding communities, and the core reason for that is unfunded liabilities forced upon us by building permit subsidies.

If Sugar Grove lowers these fees, every tax payers’ cost soars to make up what the new buyer did not. Property taxes have been rising by more than 10 percent a year to pay for these subsidies.

Who benefits? Very high on that list would have to be some very wealthy families, some of them are billionaires. Does this make a difference in housing demand? I think not—and the jobs aren’t worth the cost.

Next the tit for tat begins. Maple Park makes its sewer deal with the builders, and folks in Elburn and Sugar Grove are paying for it. Every town has its sweet deals, all politics is local—and before long no one is paying the cost.

Someone over there at Sugar Grove has some common sense. Commercial properties do not have schools, which is 70 percent of the local bill, so they are better. Houses cost money. There is something seriously wrong where towns are subsidizing their builders with other peoples’ money.

1. It is the obligation of the school district to make absolutely clear what the cost of a student is, and we know that number is more than $8,500 per pupil. The total community cost is probably over $15,000 per house.

2. The school district has the obligation to calculate and publish the financial burden that unfunded liabilities have had on the existing tax payers over the past decade. I would greatly welcome this analysis being published in the widest possible forums. That number will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars—all dumped in the pockets of rich developers by every household here.

3. The citizens of Sugar Grove should be informed:
a. What will their prorated share of the proposed builder subsidy?
b. What will their prorated share of the builder subsidies in other local communities be when the subsidies flow elsewhere? … What works for the goose works for the gander. There will be no limit to the burden Sugar Grove residence will assume from elsewhere.

4. The citizens of Sugar Grove should ask themselves:
a. Do they want to pay their prorated share of the unfunded mandates being proposed?
b. and when you get down there giving away your shirt, will it make you angry to be buying all the stuff your neighboring communities spend and pass on to you?

Because at the end of the day—it is all going to get charged out—and the biannual bond sales are driven by unfunded building permit liabilities.

Bottom line, those who are here are writing a check to every newcomer. Your check is five to ten thousand a house permit being discounted. Is that what the existing home owners want? Because I don’t think they are being asked.

I for one think it is a travesty.

Jeff L. MacKenzie