Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco commissioners eye impact fee cuts over School Board protests

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County commissioners are poised to reduce the fee on new homes that helps pay for school construction, even as they heard Monday from School Board members who said such cuts could lead to layoffs for more school employees.

The push to reduce so-called impact fees has been led by home builders, who say a two-year reduction would spur home sales and get them back to work.

"We need help," developer Alex Deeb said Monday at a joint meeting of the School Board and the County Commission. "Try it. You don't have anything to lose."

Commissioners have already shaved $6,100 off the $16,900 in various impact fees added to an average new home. Now, the question is what do to with the $4,800 fee that goes to schools, which is projected to generate $4.5 million this year.

Commissioners cut other fees that help build parks or libraries knowing they weren't building any of those facilities any time soon. As enrollment levels out, there are few new schools on the horizon. But school district officials say impact fees also help pay back bonds used to build more than 20 new schools during boom times.

"We're still on the hook for the growth that has occurred in the past several years," said School Board member Allen Altman.

Impact fees cover about a quarter of the district's annual $16.9 million debt payment. Other sources, including property taxes, a special sales tax and money from the Legislature, have all decreased as the economy soured.

"We're looking at all of our revenue sources drying up, basically," said Pasco school superintendent Heather Fiorentino.

If district officials can't pay the debt with impact fee revenue, the School Board has to dip into a general fund that pays for school operations and teacher salaries. That fund faces a $60 million shortfall next year, which Fiorentino said means "we will be laying off people."

"We're now down to where we're cutting the heart and the soul of the budgets we have," said School Board chairwoman Joanne Hurley.

Commissioners said Monday that they understand the school district's plight, but they want to jump-start the economy.

"I guess it's a shot in the dark," said commission chairwoman Ann Hildebrand. "We're gambling here. We're hoping that it will work."

Hildebrand said it would be a travesty to eliminate the school impact fee but said she would look at a 50 percent cut. That would reduce the fee to $2,400 and leave total fees on a new home at $8,300, or about half the current amount.

The commission in February voted unanimously to slash most impact fees until 2013, when the fees would revert to their previous level. No commissioner on Monday voiced opposition to cutting the school fee.

Commissioners could endorse cutting the school fee this afternoon at a meeting in Dade City. They can't formally adopt the cut, though, until another meeting in two weeks.

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Pasco commissioners eye impact fee cuts over School Board protests 04/04/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 12:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.