NC DOT May Hit Developers With New Fees

Staffers at the North Carolina Department of Transportation are working on a recommendation to the Board of Transportation to add or increase fees for developers to help counteract the reduction in revenue from gas taxes:

DOT officials are recommending new fees that would scale back this taxpayer subsidy and shift the burden to businesses. They may face resistance from the 19-member Board of Transportation, which includes developers and real estate executives whose businesses make use of these services.

In some cases, DOT now collects modest fees to recover a fraction of what it spends on office reviews and field inspections to regulate billboards, issue business and subdivision driveway permits, and oversee the movement of oversize and overweight trucks…

A few board members were wide-eyed at an Oct. 1 meeting when Mike Holder, DOT’s chief engineer, recommended the new fees.

Among them was Jeff Sheehan of Raleigh, senior vice president for Duke Realty, whose properties include the 3-million-square-foot Perimeter Park office and industrial development near Research Triangle Park. Every time Duke Realty puts up more buildings and develops more acres at Perimeter Park, DOT engineers inspect new streets and review new traffic impact studies to make sure the existing roads can handle the expected addition to daily traffic loads.

Sheehan was surprised to learn that the agency does this work for free.

“I assumed we were already paying a fee,” Sheehan said in an interview. “When you submit these plans to the town of Morrisville, you pay a review fee. It’s what you do. It costs DOT time and resources to review these things.”

North Carolina’s motor fuels tax, 36.75 cents per gallon, is the highest in the Southeast and higher than the gas taxes in all but nine other states. But gas tax collections are waning here and across the country as drivers switch to more fuel-efficient cars.