Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County Commission suspends all impact fees for a year

BROOKSVILLE — Faced with an economy that is showing no signs of a quick recovery — and a building and business community looking for help — the Hernando County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to suspend all impact fees for a year.

Commissioners had been planning to talk about a further reduction in the fees, which already had been lowered from $9,200 to $4,862 two years ago for single-family homes. Then Commissioner Wayne Dukes suggested the suspension, turning the discussion in a different direction.

"We're in unique times,'' Dukes said, noting that everyone wants to create jobs and the county is limited as to what it can do to help.

Some in the audience agreed, calling the suspension of fees "a bold move;" others said Hernando was only doing what some other counties already have done, temporarily eliminating fees, which are one-time assessments on new construction to pay for infrastructure needs.

Mark Alexander of Alexander Homes likened the suspension to the use of a defibrillator to restart someone's heart.

"We need that defibrillator,'' Alexander said.

"All this is an effort to try to make an atmosphere where people will invest,'' said business leader Len Tria.

But the idea wasn't universally embraced.

"Gentlemen, you are about to make the biggest political mistake of your lifetime by approving a reduction or elimination of impact fees," said resident Anthony Palmieri. "How can you explain that after you raised the millage rates to balance the budget you are giving away funds for needed infrastructure at the request of a special interest group.''

Commissioner Jeff Stabins asked how the elimination of impact fees would affect the county's recently approved 2011-12 budget. Staffers assured the board that, with impact fees already collected, no planned projects would need to be eliminated, including road, library and public building commitments.

While commissioners acknowledged that the Hernando school district was concerned about the loss of revenue from a suspension of fees, they said the School Board and the Brooksville City Council, which was also opposed to a reduction in fees, could strike out independently to charge higher fees.

During a workshop Tuesday afternoon, the five members of the School Board, along with superintendent Bryan Blavatt, were united in their criticism of the commission's decision.

The revenue from fees levied on residential development is used to build new schools or add capacity at existing ones. The district estimated collecting $300,000 this budget year.

The money, district officials have said, would have been socked away for expansion projects on existing campuses in the coming years since the new Winding Waters K-8 and Weeki Wachee High schools have helped ease the most pressing overcrowding issues.

"We need these funds," member Dianne Bonfield said. "I find it almost unbelievable that the County Commission would reduce the fees to zero, especially in these times."

The board asked its attorney to confirm that the commission didn't violate a state statute that calls for the district to provide input on impact fee rates.

The board also agreed to draft a letter to the commission, emphasizing the financial impact on the district and to consider separating the school portion of the fees so the district can continue to collect.

A discussion about reducing impact fees had been tacked on to a Nov. 8 County Commission workshop agenda. The school district and commission met for a joint workshop earlier that day, but because the impact fee item was a late addition to the agenda, the School Board could not participate in the discussion without violating public notice rules.

Board members expressed frustration that the county did not give them more notice.

"Personally, I don't think the County Commission wanted to involve the School Board," Chairman James Yant said. "If it did, there would have been an invitation."

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434. Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or tmarrero@sptimes.com.

by the numbers

Impact fees for single-family homes

$9,200 Up through Nov. 30, 2009

$4,862 From Dec. 1, 2009, until present

$0 Effective Tuesday for one year

Source: Hernando County

Hernando County Commission suspends all impact fees for a year 11/15/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 7:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Water Hogs: During drought, hundreds of Tampa Bay homes guzzled a gallon of water a minute

    Drought

    When Amalie Oil president Harry Barkett plunked down $6.75-million for his Bayshore Boulevard mansion, he picked up 12.5 bathrooms, a pool, a hot tub, an elevator and a deck bigger than some one-bedroom apartments.

    During one of the worst droughts in the Tampa Bay region's history, hundreds of houses used more than a gallon of water a minute. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times

  2. PolitiFact Florida checks out Rick Baker's talking point about the growth of St. Petersburg's A-rated schools

    Elections

    Rick Baker has used mailers, forums and social media to relay one big message in his campaign for St. Petersburg mayor: Schools in St. Petersburg saw drastic improvements when he was mayor from 2001 to 2010.

    Rick Baker, candidate for St. Petersburg mayor
  3. Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelly talks family, songwriting and more before Tampa show

    Music & Concerts

    A while back at the Grammys, Charles Kelley found himself in the same room as Paul McCartney. The Lady Antebellum singer, a seven-time Grammy winner in his own right, couldn't work up the courage to say hello.

    Lady Antebellum perform at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday. Credit: Eric Ray Davidson
  4. Clearwater suspect due in court after 9 die in sweltering San Antonio truck

    Nation

    SAN ANTONIO — Nine people are dead and the death toll could rise after emergency crews pulled dozens of people from a sweltering tractor-trailer found parked outside a Walmart in the midsummer Texas heat, victims of what officials said was an immigrant-smuggling attempt gone wrong.

    San Antonio police officers investigate the scene where eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer loaded with at least 30 others outside a Walmart store in stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case, Sunday, July 23, 2017, in San Antonio. [Associated Press]
  5. Email warning ignored before St. Pete started spewing sewage

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — A draft report lays blame for the city's sewage crisis squarely on the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman and a cascading series of errors that started with the now infamous shuttering of the Albert Whitted Water Reclamation Facility in 2015.

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system. St. Petersburg dumped up to 200 million gallons of sewage over 13 months from 2015-16. A new state report blames much of the crisis on mistakes made by the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman, but also critcizes past administrations. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]