Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Commissioners say 'no' to impact fee reduction

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a program to stimulate the local economy, just not the one being pushed by local builders, real estate leaders and business owners.

After more than three hours of debate, the board voted 4-1 against a proposal to cut the county's impact fees 25 percent to access a one-time-only state pool of affordable housing money. Only Commissioner Dave Russell favored the impact fee reduction.

Instead, the board went with a proposal by Commissioner Jeff Stabins to aggressively market a fix-up program that uses state funds to improve low-income housing.

Stabins also wants to push programs for first-time home buyers and to develop incentives to lure new businesses and industries.

Representatives of the Hernando County Builders Association, the Hernando County Association of Realtors and the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce all urged the commission to cut impact fees by 25 percent for the next 18 months.

That would have meant Hernando could have qualified for a piece of a state fund of $20-million for affordable housing programs, but would have cost the county more than $3-million in impact fee revenues.

Consultant Kirk Sorenson said that future tax revenue from new construction would offset that hit. Without the reduction, he said, "The great American dream of home ownership may become unreachable.''

Stabins questioned how lowering impact fees would help sell the huge inventory of houses already up for sale. Sorenson said it would take years to use up the existing inventory.

Commission Chairman Chris Kingsley asked if Sorenson was saying the current impact fees are inappropriate. "The impact fee structure is antiquated,'' Sorenson said, noting that it was based on a growth rate that doesn't exist anymore.

Lowering impact fees, "is a stimulus,'' said builder Ernest Ramirez. He said that if his business got just one contract from it, 25 to 30 employees would be needed to follow the project through, including county workers.

Builders didn't want to have to take the lead on pushing an economic stimulus, builders association president Dudley Hampton Jr., told the commission. But he saw the idea as a way "to help prime the pump of Hernando County's economic engine.''

Brooksville resident Richard Ross pointed out that Hernando's impact fees are lower than other areas and he still wanted to see some other kind of economic stimulus to get the housing market moving.

"There are more 'for sale' signs out there than political signs and that's ridiculous,'' he said.

Stabins noted that the county already has access to $20-million in other state accounts for affordable housing, yet only eight Hernando residents applied for it last year.

Representatives of SunTrust reported to the commission about their available programs. Stabins said the county should work with the bank to help them loan that money and get homes purchased. The cost in lost impact fees, he said, is "zero.''

"Then we wouldn't pit the taxpayers of this county who are not in the real estate industry against those that are. That is the unfortunate situation the Legislature has put us in today,'' he said.

The commissioners agreed to begin to identify and invite the owners of some of the county's most substandard housing to learn about the state dollars available for the no-interest loans of up to $35,000 per home, the program Stabins calls the Housing Enhancement Loan Program.

He also urged builders to sign up for the program so their workers could be put back to work.

The county's business development director, Mike McHugh, was also asked to bring specific business incentives to a future meeting and begin researching a way to offer existing incentives to a larger range of potential new businesses.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.

Commissioners say 'no' to impact fee reduction 08/05/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 7, 2008 12:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  2. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin


    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    Minnesota Twins pitching coach Neil Allen jogs back to the dugout after paying starting pitcher Tyler Duffey a visit on the mound in the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
  4. Swan sculpture deputies say was stolen by naked man found near Lakeland pond


    A $25,000 swan sculpture that Polk County sheriff's deputies say was stolen by a naked man last weekend was found near a pond in Lakeland on Thursday.

    A swan sculpture that was stolen in Lakeland on May 19 was recovered by the Polk Sheriff’s Office on Friday.
  5. Mayor Rick Kriseman says St. Petersburg mayoral election is about going forward, not back


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally