NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco commissioners have killed a colleague's proposal to slightly reduce one-time charges on new residential construction, deciding to keep the full fees to save for future projects.
Commissioner Ted Schrader had proposed a one-year suspension on collecting impact fees to build or expand the libraries, parks and fire-rescue stations to support new development.
The suspension would have saved buyers about $1,400 out of the roughly $21,000 per home paid in total fees. The more expensive charges for schools, roads, and utilities would have remained.
His reason: The county can't pay to operate the new facilities, so why collect the money to build them?
"The issue I have is you're collecting this money and sticking it in the bank," Schrader said at Wednesday's workshop. "I just have an issue with taking the money because we can."
If the county issued 2,000 new residential permits next year, his proposal would mean a roughly $2.9 million loss of revenue, according to county staff, which had recommended commissioners not support the suspension.
That loss would not hurt projects planned over the next five years but could hinder any new projects, including a long-promised library in Trinity and an emerging possibility of building a library in the Wiregrass Ranch area that Pasco-Hernando Community College would help operate.
"We hope within five years we'll be out of the economic doldrums," said budget director Mike Nurrenbrock. "We want to be poised with this money."
Commissioner Jack Mariano said he didn't see cutting impact fees to boost home-building, given the number of vacant homes in Pasco.
"Let people buy the existing inventory now," he said.
Chairwoman Pat Mulieri said she asked developers if the roughly 7 percent cut in impact fees would make much of a difference to them. She said they told her their bigger problem is the portion of fees dedicated to roads — roughly $10,000 per home.
"They want a bigger bite of the apple," she said.
Mariano used the discussion to argue that the county should not use an estimated $2 million in impact fees to expand soccer fields at Mitchell Park. He said those fields should be built at Starkey Ranch, in conjunction with the proposed five-field sports complex.
That triggered another debate about the sports complex project before Mulieri put an end to the discussion. The sports complex will be placed on an another agenda.
Jodie Tillman can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6247.