With steep increases for real estate licenses on two Upstate lakes ready to take hold next year, U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan says his efforts to squash them were defeated by his Democratic colleagues.
This week, the 3rd District Republican offered an amendment to a House Appropriations bill that would have prevented the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from implementing a revised fee schedule for development permits on lakes Hartwell and Thurmond, but it was blocked from floor debate by the Rules Committee.
“I will always fight on behalf of my constituents, which is why I opposed a steep fee increase by the Army Corps of Engineers this coming year for residents living on Lakes Hartwell and Thurmond. Instead of allowing debate on real life issues that affect constituents on lakes in my district and others in the southeast region, Democrats decided to skip over a germane amendment and make the appropriations process purely political,” Duncan said in a statement.
Currently, the cost of a new development permit on Lake Thurmond is $400, with a re-issue permit set at $175. Under revised guidelines to kick in January 1, both of those fees will jump to $835.
The first increase to such permit fees since 2006, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the move is necessary to keep reflects costs incurred by the government since that time.
The rate, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will:
Allow projects to meet acceptable levels of customer service and regulatory compliance to ensure good stewardship of public lands.
Allow for investment in automated tools to improve timely and efficient license issuance and database maintenance consistently within the region.
Ensure that the individual benefiting from the use of public property bears the cost incurred by the government for issuing these instruments.
Duncan faulted House Democrats for their inaction, saying their partisan decision will cost property owners along the lakes thousands of dollars more.
“Instead of allowing debate on real life issues that affect constituents on lakes in my district and others in the southeast region, Democrats decided to skip over this germane amendment and make the appropriations process purely political. I will continue to look at every avenue, including working with my friends in the Senate, to protect residents from this impending and unjustified fee increase,” Duncan said.
In addition to the two South Carolina lakes, nine other waterways in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia would be affected by the new fees.
Army Corps officials said the adjusted rates will remain in place for five years when they’ll be reevaluated to “avoid significant price increases in the future.”