BROOKSVILLE — To the delight of local builders, real estate professionals and business people, the County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved rolling back impact fees to 2001 levels.
The change will take affect Dec. 1 and remain for one year, cutting about in half the fees that residential, commercial and industrial uses pay toward increased public services. For single-family homes, the $9,200 fee would be cut to $4,800.
While county business interests cheered, others who spoke during the hourlong public hearing were not pleased. Some asked how much it is going to cost to give what one called "the golden key'' to the building industry.
"Reducing the impact fees is going to put a burden on all the people in the community,'' said John Bloom, president of the United Communities of Hernando County, which represents 22 homeowners associations. "You're going to have to jack up the taxes.''
Resident Janey Baldwin said the county should have a professional give an opinion about the effects of reducing the fees. "The opinion of the Realtors, the builders and the chamber are insufficient,'' she said.
For the business community, the reduction was all about "jobs, jobs, jobs,'' said Realtor Gary Schraut.
He said the issue wasn't about builders as "the enemy'' but rather about putting neighbors back to work.
Spring Hill builder Bernice Paradise told commissioners they needed to reduce the fees to show their commitment to small business. She named three dozen kinds of business that would benefit if new homes were built.
"Think of this as a Hernando County stimulus,'' said builder Dudley Hampton.
The commission's action also means that those building homes would not have to pay the impact fees at the time a building permit is pulled, but rather at the other end of the process — when a certificate of occupancy is issued.
The commission also approved an ordinance allowing commercial and industrial projects that would be on the hook for impact fees of $25,000 or more to defer payment for up to three years.
In other business, commissioners held a workshop on charter government — a sort of county constitution that, if approved by voters, spells out the powers of county government and citizens. After listening to citizen opinions and discussing the pros and cons, they agreed to continue the discussion at a January workshop.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.