BROOKSVILLE — The City Council balked Monday night at severing itself from the county's plan to reduce impact fees, saying that it would be more prudent to wait and see how such a move would affect the flagging construction industry.
"We all agree on one thing: that we won't be seeing an increase of new development soon," said council member David Pugh, who proposed revisiting the matter in June, when the county has updated information on how its reduction in impact fees is working.
Mayor Lara Bradburn had pushed fellow council members to consider drafting an ordinance calling for Brooksville to opt out of the County Commission's decision in November to reduce fees to 2001 levels — from the current $9,200 to $4,848 for one year.
"New development needs to pay for itself," said Bradburn, who added that failure to go after adequate money for infrastructure needs would result in either higher taxes or a forced moratorium on construction.
Council member Richard Lewis cautioned that backing out of an interlocal agreement the city has with the county might leave the city vulnerable should any legal questions arise.
"We're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees," Lewis said.
Pugh pointed out that waiting on a decision probably wouldn't change the city's fortunes much anyway, given that there have been only 13 building permits issued this year.
Hoping to stimulate the economy and create jobs, county commissioners voted to roughly halve its impact fees. However, Bradburn noted at the council's Nov. 16 meeting that she had seen no evidence that such a measure would boost development.
The city is contractually obligated to charge the same rates as the county, and had no input on the county's decision to trim the rates, which are charged against all new construction to pay for infrastructure.
Countywide, building permits for single-family homes have dropped from a high of 4,185 in 2005 to fewer than 150 this year, and local builders have lobbied for the fee reduction, arguing that it would help push more people to build homes and put construction workers back to work.
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.