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Moratorium on impact fees not a Hernando County priority

BROOKSVILLE — County Commissioner Jim Adkins wants to revisit an old idea to revive the local economy: Impose a moratorium on impact fees.

But his suggestion Tuesday that the commission take up the issue at its March 24 meeting found no takers.

Commissioners and county officials said they were willing to look over any materials on the subject, but they were not interested in making the contentious issue of impact fees an immediate priority.

When Commissioner Rose Rocco, who was chairing the meeting, said that the county's new standing committees should tackle the matter first, Adkins complained that the board "is pumping too much through these committees and we need to start acting'' on issues.

Saying he wants "to help our people out as quickly as possible,'' Adkins noted that other Florida counties are examining impact fees. He said, "If those counties, which have a better employment picture than Hernando and its 12.4 jobless rate, are looking at a moratorium, officials here should move on the issue quickly."

Brooksville resident Dick Ross reminded commissioners that they had debated, and rejected, the notion of reducing impact fees last year.

The idea "was highly supported by every Realtor in this county,'' he said. They considered it a "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow'' and many walked out of the meeting when the commission turned it down, Ross added.

"Impact fees are what pays for what we need going forward,'' Ross said. "It makes no sense to cut impact fees.''

County Administrator David Hamilton said that revisions to impact fees are one of the topics set for discussion by his leadership team but that the members have not done so yet because they are focusing on next year's expected $10 million general fund revenue shortfall.

The county is also facing a $3 million budget gap this year.

Impact fees, one-time charges on new construction to finance public services, affect building, Hamilton said, but they also impact budget figures.

He said he would take the issue back to the leadership team while other officials will gather information from other counties that have enacted moratoriums.

"This is going to take some time to think this through,'' Hamilton said.

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

Moratorium on impact fees not a Hernando County priority 03/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 7:30pm]
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