Impact fees are, in theory, justified by their linkage to specific services, but most people buying a home don't ask questions to adequately determine the appropriateness of the charges.
Homebuyers might ask questions of the contractor, the developer or the banker, but not the city. Why does this home cost so much? They don't ask the mayor or city manager to justify up to $20,000 (some 15 percent of the home's price) factored into the total cost for impact fees. Impact fees are related to the communal nature of people.
We organize ourselves into communities, each one requiring that its members contribute and sacrifice for the value of the community as a whole. If the members are unwilling to make that contribution, the community will of necessity dissolve. Ultimately no community should or can survive if it's legitimately unable to pay its own way.
We form governments to share the costs of society. Un-fortunately, many governments have become inefficient and self-serving, taking on an unaccountable life of their own. City governments provide a few "vital" services and many unnecessary "services."
Obviously cities have a sufficient amount of funding from their existing revenues. After all, how many cities have dissolved due to lack of money? So should existing citizens, who are already paying a level of taxes to keep the community afloat, then be forced to pay any portion for adding new residential or commercial citizens?
That is socialism in its purest form, making direct impact fees the only "fair" method of covering the costs of adding new citizens. If the new citizen thinks he or she is not receiving fair value for the services, he or she will buy a home elsewhere. Things cost what they cost. Don't expect to buy a Cadillac for a Yugo price.
In the meantime, the debate should not be on whether or not impact fees are fair but whether or not they are truly necessary. That question will only be answered when the citizenry is excited enough to ask honest questions concerning the value of government services.
A Davis County mortgage and real estate broker, Nichols is dedicated to preserving the "American dream" for his 24 grandchildren through conservative principles. He replaces Lee Ernst, who has moved out of state.