Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Dade City wise to end impact fee retreat

Dade City commissioners are correctly ending a two-year retreat on the city's transportation impact fees, a move that follows Pasco County's lead in restoring its impact fees for parks, libraries and public safety.

The city's initial motive in waiving the fees was to stimulate economic development and remain competitive with their neighbors. But Dade City wisely wants to again start preparing for its future road needs beyond the next few years. And the value of impact fees can be seen in an imperative, but still pending road project.

The extension of Morningside Drive from U.S. 301 to Fort King Road — providing an essential connector between the city's eastern and southern edges — is slowly moving from aspiration to asphalt. The eventual construction will be financed by past impact fee collections.

Impact fees, the one-time charges on new construction to help pay for the service demands caused by growth, have been scorned by the building and development industries since the fees' inception in the mid 1980s for roads, sewer and water lines, and later for schools, parks, libraries and public safety equipment.

Despite the worries, the fees never did kill the golden goose of residential home-building that provided the backbone of Pasco's economy. However, local governments across the state began cutting, then waiving the fees entirely in hopes of providing an economic stimulus after the real estate market collapsed in 2008.

Pasco County, for instance, waived its fees for parks, libraries, public safety and hurricane preparedness from 2011 until the end of 2013. But it wisely resisted the temptation and political pressure from the home-building community to do likewise for road and education fees. One county to the north, Hernando commissioners continue to freeze their school impact fee and declined a consultant's recommendation to adopt a higher transportation fee.

Dade City is smart to avoid such short-sightedness. Nearly two years ago, commissioners agreed to suspend the transportation fee of $5,223 per single-family home in an attempt to remain competitive with the county and the city of Zephyrhills. The county had recast its transportation charges as mobility fees that varied from $1,553 up to $9,312 depending on a home's size and location. Zephyrhills, meanwhile, charged $3,632 per home.

Since the moratorium started, the city has issued 53 residential permits and three for commercial buildings — meaning that Dade City forfeited more than $250,000 worth of road construction dollars. It's imprudent planning.

The commission is smart to end this experiment, update its data for a new fee, and be ready to adopt it in May when the moratorium officially ends. Trying to prepare for growth is more logical than trying to prolong economic gimmickry.

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Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

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Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

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Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

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Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

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Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

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Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

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Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

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Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18