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Commission divided on impact fee rules

Impact fees are going up. The only questions left: How much, and when?

The County Commission spent Thursday forming some answers.

Three of the five commissioners - Gary Bartell, Dennis Damato and John Thrumston - favored a phased schedule for the two biggest parts of impact fees: transportation and education.

Commissioners Vicki Phillips and Joyce Valentino indicated a preference for implementing a new schedule all at once; however, they were open to studying the implications of phasing in the bigger fees.

The commission is scheduled to hold a final hearing in late January.

Builders pay impact fees to help defray the costs of growth, because occupants of new buildings and homes put a strain on public services.

Generally speaking, national analyses have shown that impact fees pay about 30 percent of the cost of growth.

By law, impact fees can't pay for some costs, such as new sheriff's deputies or road maintenance.

In Citrus, there are eight impact fee categories: transportation, public schools, public buildings, parks and recreation, fire, library, law enforcement and emergency medical services.

Only residential projects are assessed the fees for schools, libraries and parks.

The county hired a consultant to determine appropriate impact fees for new single-family homes, offices, commercial buildings and so on.

It recommended a schedule of how much different projects should be assessed for each category.

Bartell suggested fully implementing six of the new fees at 100 percent of what the consultant recommended but adopting the transportation and school fees at only 50 percent of the total for the first six months.

"I think we ultimately need to get to that 100 percent," Bartell said.

Officials said that plan would leave about $10-million in uncollected impact fees. County staffers will study what effect such a move would have on proposed road projects.

Thrumston suggested asking the Economic Development Council to study what effect increased impact fees would have on the local economy.

But Phillips said the market, not impact fees, drives construction.

Ron Lieberman, president of the Citrus County Builders Association, didn't disagree.

However, he did say, "I'm afraid we're making an adjustment to the market" by raising impact fees to unreasonable levels.

Lieberman said residential construction is lagging behind 2005 performance - and things are getting worse.

"It's going to be substantially down next year, and I mean substantially," Lieberman said.

"Are we going to build roads that no one can afford to build on?"

The Builders Association hired its own consultant to crunch the numbers and ultimately recommended that the county adopt only 40 percent of the amount that the county consultant recommended.

Toward the end of the workshop, Damato proposed three "incentives":

- A 90- to 120-day period during which property owners could pay the current impact fees.

- An impact fee cut up to 50 percent for all new medical offices.

- Possible impact fee reductions of up to 50 percent for existing businesses that need to expand.

Damato said these moves would provide economic stimulus at a much-needed time.

FAST FACTS

Potential revenues

If the County Commission fully accepts its consultant's recommendations, the resulting impact fees would bring in $46-million per year and $1.1-billion from 2007 to 2030. This estimate assumes average growth during that time.

Categories

There are eight impact fee categories: transportation, public schools, public buildings, parks and recreation, fire, library, law enforcement and emergency medical services. Only residential projects are assessed the schools, library and parks fees.

IMPACT FEE COMPARISON

Here's a look at the current impact fees for various land uses in Citrus County, as well as some recommendations for what the fees should be. The Citrus County Builders Association has recommended adoption of 40 percent of what the county consultant recommends.

Land use Current PDRB+ County consult

Home $6,665 $7,579 $16,275

Office* $6,680 $5,989 $14,081

Retail* $6,081 $,6510 $15,009

Fast food* $46,503 $54,405 $129,345

Bank* $24,167 $23,320 $55,996

Industrial* $2,735 $2,788 $6,537

* denotes per 1,000 square feet

+ PDRB is short for the county's Planning and Development Review Board, which advises the County Commission.

Source: County and consultants' documents

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POTENTIAL REVENUES

If the County Commission fully accepts its consultant's recommendations, the resulting impact fees would bring in $46-million per year and $1.1-billion from 2007 to 2030. This estimate assumes average growth during that time.

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CATEGORIES

There are eight impact fee categories: transportation, public schools, public buildings, parks and recreation, fire, library law enforcement and emergency medical services. Only residential projects are assessed the schools, library and parks fees.

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