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Impact fees in Stafford pay just part of the bills

October 11, 2012 12:10 am

I have been reading the exchange between Charlie Payne and Cord Sterling concerning impact fees. Both make good points, but I am troubled that some of Payne's arguments are misleading. ["Good, safe roads do not benefit developers only," Sept. 28].

Payne would have you believe that revenues collected from impact fees ($3.2 million over nine years) in Stafford will pay for all new roads improvements and that everyone, not just developers, should contribute to make our roads safer. He is correct that everyone should contribute, but his argument makes the case for impact fees. Revenues collected from new development contribute only a very small fraction of what it takes to improve road safety and congestion. Revenues collected can be spent only on improvements that are directly impacted by new construction. Stafford uses the funds to do low-cost, spot improvements such as those done on Poplar Road.

It is the taxes paid by people who already live in the county that make up the preponderance of dollars spent on road improvements. Whether it is from sales taxes, income taxes, or real estate taxes, current residents pay plenty.

State and federal governments are preparing to build a new interchange at Courthouse Road for approximately $140 million, has dedicated $25 million for improvements to the Falmouth interchange, and $50 million to widen U.S. 17. The state recently completed improvements to the Mine Road/State Route 610 intersection that cost $3.1 million; and planning and design are completed for improvements to the Onville Road/State Route 610 intersection that will ultimately cost $11 million.

More than $33 million of county and state funds will be used to widen Courthouse Road west of Interstate 95 and $9 million for expansion of the Staffordborough Road commuter lot.

This is just a sampling of what's to come. Residents of Stafford passed a transportation bond referendum for $70 million that will result in improvements to Mountain View Road, Brooke Road, Poplar Road, and more.

Not a single dollar collected from impact fees has been or will be used on any of these projects. Payne, should be honest with the public about fair contributions from new development. Significant problems with the state's land use laws stand in the way of proper management of new development. Unfortunately, my proposed reform legislation met a dead end. State and local government and developers should come together to reform a broken system.

Mark Dudenhefer


Mark Dudenhefer is delegate, House District 2, the Virginia House Delegates, and former chairman, Stafford County Board of Supervisors.

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