Thursday, April 19, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Letters: Impact fee vote hurts schools, taxpayers

Anti-fee rationale didn't make sense

On Tuesday, March 11, Hernando commissioners voted ''no'' on reinstating the school impact fees. The citizens of Hernando will now be facing significantly higher property taxes to fund the needs of the school district.

Commissioners bought into the self-serving arguments that Bob the Builder and friends put forth anytime the reinstatement of impact fees is broached; the building industry has not recovered from the burst of the housing bubble and they cannot compete if the impact fees are reinstated. It is not the responsibility of the commission or the residents of Hernando County to subsidize businesses that are not competitive.

Why have Hernando County builders not been able to compete?

Regardless of the builders' rhetoric, it's not the impact fees. This is clearly evidenced if one drives anywhere in Pasco County where there is large-scale construction along State Road 54/56 from U.S. 19 through Wesley Chapel and there is new home construction off the major roads. Pasco County has a school impact fee of $4,876.28 per single-family detached dwelling unit, plus a transportation impact fee of $13,816 per single-family detached dwelling unit (depending on size and location) for a total of $18,692, not including park, library and fire rescue impact fees.

Pasco County has also elected to adopt a more stringent construction code to address the sinkhole issues. The Hernando County builders also oppose adopting a more stringent construction code because they don't believe that the sinkhole problem is that bad.

So if impact fees are not the reason that the Hernando County builders have not recovered from the housing bubble burst, perhaps it is because the county does not provide high-quality schools. Hernando lacks good schools, roads, parks and other amenities that businesses and families look for when looking to locate a business or choosing a home.

If Hernando County is to recruit new businesses and industries that will not degrade Hernando County's environment, the county has to support the diversification of industries and not be as reliant on the builders and realtors. Of course if you follow the money trail, commissioners are still reliant upon the builders for their election campaign funding, so the schools will continue to suffer and so will all the other citizens in the county.

Anne Kraus-Keenan, Spring Hill

When numbers aren't enough

The actions taken by the Board of County Commissioners are beyond my scope of reasoning. Commissioners were presented with and adopted the educational impact fees study as the most recent data available. This study cost $33,000 to complete and is heavily data driven by the experts in this field. These are the same experts who conducted the impact fee studies for the county's libraries, roads and parks. This same board approved impact fees for those services. Although these fees in total are less than the proposed educational impact fee, the same argument can be made that these fees will harm the new home sales industry claimed by the builders of this county.

Here is where you realize the fix was in, the game was rigged and no matter how much data or how hard you worked, it just didn't matter. I am partially to blame for this failure due to my naivety and believing in the system: If you present strong sound data and logic you will prevail through the politics surrounded by the issue. This did not happen. Instead, commissioners selected various pieces of the study out of context to grandstand their position.

A commissioner stated that although the laws allows impact fees to pay down debt, he didn't agree with that law and therefore would not vote for these impact fees. Another commissioner seemed to base his "no'' vote on the fact that his wife hasn't sold a home in two years due to the poor market of new home sales. I am not sure how that fact relates to the educational impact fees. Another commissioner orchestrated, with the builders, a display of non fact- based comments, which allowed the builder to exceed his allotted time of three minutes. The builders offered no study or data to support any of the comments that the moratorium was working. It was smoke and mirrors.

This decision has placed the school district under financial strain due to the previous growth we experienced which needs to be paid for from debt service. Unfortunately, the Board of County Commissioners said voters are less important than the builders' special interest group. They choose to turn their backs on the education of all students in Hernando County.

Roland "Bo" Bavota, director of facilities, Hernando County School District

State, not schools should scrutinize

My son is having grade issues; could Hernando School Board member John Sweeney please use his powers to adjust his grades as well? I am curious what college is interested in Sweeney's child that he had to pull a stupid stunt like this? He wants to run for re-election again? I think not.

If anything, I believe the state needs to do this investigation and not the school district, as Mr. Sweeney is an elected official.

Jeff Salvatore, Spring Hill


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