FORT MILL, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – If you plan on moving to South Carolina soon, you might have to cough up some extra cash.
Legislators are considering implementing an “impact fee” for new residents of the Palmetto State.
S.C. lawmakers said growth doesn’t pay for itself, so to make up for the large influx of new residents, some legislators want newcomers to pay a one-time fee when they get their licenses and register their vehicles here.
Senate Bill 208 would allow county governments in the state to impose an additional driver’s license and vehicle registration fee of $250 for new residents from other states. Senator Stephen Goldfinch introduced the bill and thinks it’s important for new residents to contribute to the state they’re moving in to.
“We have a serious issue in South Carolina, especially in high-growth counties, where our quality of life is being diminished,” Goldfinch said. “Because of the high growth, we’re just not able to keep up with the infrastructure, the schools, the roads, the bridges, the utilities, and the green space that we need in order to keep our quality of life.”
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, South Carolina was the third fastest-growing state in 2022. Nearly 90,000 people moved to the Palmetto State in just one year. Guynn Savage, mayor of Fort Mill, said that growth impacts her town daily.
“Growth does not pay for growth,” Savage said. “Even the residential growth that was here isn’t paying the taxes needed to afford all of the services that are provided in a municipality.”
Mayor Savage said she understands why lawmakers are considering passing impact fees, especially since Fort Mill’s population has almost quadrupled in size in the last ten years.
“Everyone enjoys the benefits of growth. Everybody loves a new restaurant, a new boutique, a new service, a new park,” Savage said. “I think that it’s something that also comes with challenges that must be met.”
Some legislators worry an impact fee might deter newcomers from moving to South Carolina; Senator Goldfinch thinks the financial pros still outweigh the cons.
“If you’re moving from an extremely high property tax state like New York, New Jersey, Ohio – which is where most of our residents come from – you’re saving literally, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars by moving to S.C., especially with the cost of living,” Goldfinch said. “$250 driver’s license fees are not going to stop that, and if it does, if that offends you so much that it stops you from moving here, honestly, go somewhere else.”
Senator Goldfinch estimated if the bill passes and the growth rate continues as it has been over the last ten years, S.C. would bring in around $250 million from the driver’s license and vehicle registration impact fees over the next ten years.
Senate Bill 208 passed through the Finance Committee on Tuesday and is now heading to the Senate floor.