Sunday, May 27, 2018
Editorials

Impact fees vital to Hernando's economic health

Hernando Commissioner Nick Nicholson's economic development strategy needs an overhaul. Nicholson wants to encourage new construction in existing developments and on empty parcels in areas already equipped with roads and utilities, a common approach known as in-fill development. It is smart thinking that, if successful, should discourage sprawl and concentrate job-producing industries in targeted areas like Spring Hill, Brooksville and industrial locations close to the airport and Interstate 75.

Yet, Nicholson also announced this week he wants to abolish impact fees, the one-time charges on new construction to pay for growth's strain on existing infrastructure. It was an oddball pronouncement coming amid a consultant's report on calculating future impact fees to assist Nicholson's desire to guide new construction into old developments. (The county has charged no impact fees for the past 15 months and doesn't plan to reinstitute its most expensive fees for transportation and education until November at the earliest.)

If Nicholson gets a commission majority to mirror his disdain for impact fees, a likely outcome considering past votes and public sentiments from Commissioners Wayne Dukes and Jim Adkins, it effectively kills the economic inducement for in-fill development. It will be awfully hard to push for in-fill if the county cannot offer reduced or waived impact fees as a financial incentive.

Nicholson's anti-impact fees stance also fails to acknowledge the professional advice from county planners and transportation consultants: Without impact fees, the county will have to rely more heavily on other revenue sources to pay for its future road needs. In other words, higher property, gasoline or sales taxes will be needed to make up a road-construction shortfall.

Eliminating impact fees might curry favor with the residential construction industry, but it is a shortsighted economic development strategy that simply pushes a greater share of growth's costs onto existing taxpayers. Nicholson also wrongly suggested construction of a new, middle-income residence generates enough tax revenue to pay for the government services the occupants will use.

That growth-pays-for-itself fallacy is one of the reasons for the county's stagnate finances. The overreliance on home building as the county's economic engine created a tax roll too dependent on residential property values. Local government revenue plunged initially when tax exemptions doubled for homeowners and then continued for four consecutive years after the real estate bubble burst.

Nicholson should have listened more closely to the county's transportation consultant who warned the county can only maintain inexpensive impact fees during minimal growth periods.

He can better advance his vision for in-fill development by adopting new impact fees that can be discounted for builders in specified regions. To do otherwise could doom Hernando County to long-term blight as it will be unable to serve the very businesses and residents it hopes to attract.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18