Calvert County commissioners, trying to finance new schools needed to accommodate the county's rapid growth during the past two years, last week agreed to charge between $1,000 to $3,000 for each new home built in the county.
The commissioners also divided the county into two districts for the impact fees so that funds collected within each district will be used only for schools in that area. County planners estimate that the fees will raise just over $1 million a year for the crowded school system.
School officials have called for the construction of at least four schools and an addition to another school to help handle the crush of new students during the next five years. Enrollment in the schools increased by 600 last year.
Under the new ordinance, Calvert will charge a $3,000 fee for a single-family detached house, $2,000 for a town house, $1,000 for a low-rise apartment and $1,500 for a mobile home.
The commissioners' 4-to-1 vote on Feb. 23 brought a stampede of people seeking permits before the fee ordinance became law last Friday. Commissioner Barbara Stinnett, the only commissioner to oppose the ordinance, said more than 600 permits were filed in the two days. That delay cost the county nearly $2 million in fees, according to Stinnett.
"We may have lost some," Commission President William T. Bowen said, but "the delay was to allow the media to be able to publish the adoption of the ordinance."
The proposal had met little resistance, although some builders asked that the fees not be collected at once.
The commissioners agreed last week to modify the collection system. One third of the fee will be required when the building permit is issued, and the remaining two-thirds will be billed as part of the property's real estate taxes during the next two years.
Developers and county officials acknowledged that the fees are expected to be passed on by the builders to home buyers, so the phased-in payment schedule was a way to help relieve first-time home buyers of an immediate $1,000 to $3,000 burden, said Commissioner Mark Frazer.
Calvert County joins a growing number of Maryland counties -- St. Mary's, Charles, Anne Arundel and Montgomery -- that impose some form of impact fee. Prince George's County officials are considering impact fees.