The HBASC Board, at their scheduled meeting on November 19, voted to assess each local Association $10 per member (Builder, Associate and Affiliate)The number of members will be based on the Oct. 31, 2015 membership role. All of the money collected will be directed to the HBA of SC Legal Action Fund for the continuing fight to stop school impact fees. We know that every one of our members is still working to recover from the recent downturn so the HBA of Spartanburg Board has voted NOT to pass the $10 assessment on to our members. Rather, the assessment will paid out of our general fund.
Maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Specifically, the HBASC is fighting a court battle over an attempt to impose an impact fee in Dorchester County. I have outlined a short synopsis of the case and its merits. To date, they have spent more than $57,000 to present and defend the case and will probably spend another $50,000(legal fees, expert witnesses and etc.)getting ready for a trial in early 2016. This case may also require a second trip to the S.C. Supreme Court, which will then raise the estimates higher. Filing this case and vigorously defending it has already paid off for our members. Our actions suspended the use of the “Local Legislation” to allow the impact fee from spreading to every school district in the state. In fact, after Act 99 passed in 2009, twelve additional school districts asked their Senator to file similar bills. Inevitably, a majority of school districts would have followed suit.
We have two goals. The first, and most important, is to have the courts rule the impact fee “unconstitutional” and therefore kill the use of imposing educational impact fees and stop the use of “Local Legislation” (only elected officials from the local area affected are allowed to vote) from imposing future fees on our industry. Based on the S.C. Supreme Court’s ruling on this and similar cases we feel confident that the HBASC will win this part of the case. Secondly, more than $9 million has been collected from impact fees, and should be returned to those who have paid the fee. There is no legal precedence to require the school district to repay an “unconstitutional” and “illegally” collected fee, but we are working to set such precedent. While this lawsuit deals specifically with the Dorchester 2 School District I believe it is easy to foresee the statewide impact this case can and will have on our industry and state. Working together we will persevere.
If the ability to impose this fee is not stopped, the cost of new housing will increase significantly. This impacts every building professional….HBA members and non members alike. There are jarring statistics that tell us that every $1,000 added to the price of a home, 317 Spartanburg families are knocked out of the market. It is imperative that we work to slow down the creation of new regulations, taxes, and fees. The diminished pool of buyers affects us all.
This is only one of many issues that your membership supports. If you have questions about the other good work done by HBASC or NAHB, please contact Mary Speed and she will put you in touch with the resident expert.
If you would like to participate in the ability of the HBASC to continue fighting against onerous regulations and interference from government, please contact Mark Nix at HBASC . He can be reached at Mnix@hbaofsc.com or 803-771-7408
Thanks for your support of the building industry. HBA of Spartanburg is working hard to protect your ability to continue in an industry that is so very important in shaping the economy and providing affordable housing.
In 2009, former Sen. Mike Rose, R-Summerville, passed a piece of special legislation (aka Local Legislation) Act 99 that would allow a school district to collect impact fees from developers and home builders for every new house. Former Sen. Mike Rose initially sought a $25,000 per house impact fee, but concluded for a $2,500 per house fee. This legislation was unique as state law does not allow counties and municipalities to assess impact fees for schools, but former Sen. Rose defended that the law doesn’t address whether individual school districts can. The HBA argues that taxes such as the fee should be approved statewide only. Soon after this Act passed without debate more than twelve additional school districts asked their local elected officials to file a similar bill. The HBASC immediately filed suit, which shelved the new requests. The HBASC believes that the special legislation passed to create the fee wasn’t constitutional because it bypassed existing general legislation that already governs impact fees. A circuit judge in 2011 dismissed the lawsuit, but the S.C. Supreme Court reversed that ruling and ordered the lower court to hear further arguments in the case, stating that some issues of fact raised by the groups must be explored before determining the constitutionality of the law that allowed the fee. The Supreme Court did not rule the impact fee unconstitutional, but stated that the school district would have to show that it is unique to other “fast growing” school districts. The HBASC and its legal representation are preparing for the next court date in 2016.