Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: The folly of houses without impact fees

Hernando County continued a reckless subsidy for the real estate market Tuesday, allowing home builders to keep putting up houses without helping to pay for the schools serving their customers. A Hernando Commission majority extended until May 2015 its misguided moratorium on school impact fees, a failed attempt at economic stimulus that has cost the school district $3.2 million in five years.

The commissioners irresponsibly disregarded a consultant's study and a School Board request for a new, higher fee of nearly $7,000 per home. That would have raised $61 million toward a 10-year capital plan to build a new school, upgrade classroom technology, repair deteriorating buildings and pay off the debt from building schools to accommodate growth during the previous strong economy. Only Commissioner Diane Rowden supported the proposed fee, and she acknowledged the tax inequity the board's majority endorsed. Current property owners will be penalized because the rest of the commission curried favor with the building and real estate industries by shielding new residents from sharing the impact they have on the community.

"I've heard the impact on the builders — a group of businesspeople. I haven't heard the impact on the taxpayers. The taxpayers of Hernando County are the ones left holding the bag here," Rowden told the board.

It fell on deaf ears. Instead, commissioners accepted at face value the building industry's dubious claim that waiving impact fees is responsible for a two-year, 98 percent jump in home construction. Commissioners should have mined the data a little deeper and considered neighboring markets. In Pasco County, for instance, which never stopped collecting school and transportation fees, the pace of residential construction is five times larger than Hernando County's and the number of Pasco permits grew 64 percent between 2011 and 2013. Let's see the builders association explain that. Likewise, Commissioner Nick Nicholson echoed erroneous suggestions that resuming school impact fee collections will hurt the commercial construction industry and cost the county future jobs. Hardly. School impact fees are charged only on residential construction.

Impact fees, one-time charges on new construction to cover the cost of service demands from growth, won't hinder Hernando's rebounding economy. A much greater obstacle to prosperity is a community whose leaders are unwilling to invest in the public school system.

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Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Updated: 8 hours ago

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

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

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

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

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
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