Sunday, December 17, 2017
Editorials

Dade City's suspension of impact fees won't bring growth

Dade City is poised to mimic the unsuccessful economic stimulus plans attempted by other local governments — suspending impact fees to try to stir building activity.

Following public hearings Tuesday and again May 8, the City Commission will vote on a proposed ordinance to suspend transportation impact fees for two years because "it is in the best interest of the public health, safety and welfare to attempt to encourage construction of homes and businesses within the city limits.'' How did they leave out Mom and apple pie from this rationalization?

The logic is flawed because it wrongly presumes the city is at an economic disadvantage when competing against Pasco County's new mobility fees. The city's road impact fee is $5,223 per single-family home. Pasco fees, based on location and home size, can range from $1,563 for a small house in a so-called traditional neighborhood design to more than $9,300 for a large home in a suburban location.

Waiving impact fees is a feel-good measure that doesn't translate into renewed growth. At least not yet. When adopting its lower transportation mobility fees last year, the Pasco County Commission also suspended its impact fees for public safety, parks and libraries. The result was a mere 884 permits issued for single-family home construction in 2011, a 9 percent decline from 2010. The same strategy failed miserably in neighboring Hernando County as well. There, commissioners initially cut fees in half and watched single-family home construction permits for a nine-month period drop from 134 to 89. Instead of backtracking, they suspended the fees entirely in November.

Blaming a stalled residential-construction industry on impact fees — the one-time charges intended to make new growth help pay for the demands on roads and other government services — is a favorite tactic of builders. But, it fails to account for foreclosed and short-sale homes saturating the market, tight credit, and high unemployment that also keep people from building new homes.

Likewise, waiving fees for commercial construction makes more sense if the beneficiaries can document specific job-creation.

Dade City has significant attributes that much of east Pasco County cannot match: Downtown retailing anchored by its antique district, a pedestrian-friendly community, enhanced police protection, the only county library branch east of New River and, most importantly, no sprawl or resulting traffic congestion.

Dade City shouldn't fear competition from the county and it would be wise to study the current dilemma in New Port Richey. That city has never charged transportation impact fees, believing it would give it an economic development edge over the county. Yet, over the past 10 years, New Port Richey's population has declined and its council now faces a looming budget implosion because private-sector investment in the city hasn't materialized.

A more appropriate tactic for Dade City — part of which is included in its proposed ordinance — would be to commission a study to devise a new, more accurate impact fee. Doing so at least recognizes that falling road construction prices has made the current road fee outdated.

Waiving the fee entirely smacks of desperation and unfairly penalizes people who already have invested in the city.

Comments

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17