Advertisement
  1. Hernando

Guest column: Hernando County education impact fee must be increased

Published Aug. 19

For the remainder of this year and well into 2020, Hernando County residents will be asked to dig deeper to pay for problems we did not create. The County Commission voted last month to advertise for consideration a 14-percent increase in the general fund property tax rate so it can balance its budget.

At the same time, an increasing demand for single-family homes and multi-family dwellings brings significant challenges.

How do we pay for the growth? One piece of the puzzle is impact fees. They help to spread the cost of new schools, roads, utilities, etc., to the new users of added infrastructure. To share the onus fairly, that's a tool local governments should use.

Especially in Hernando County, that's imperative because our state ranks 43rd in the nation in spending on K-12 education, according to Governing magazine. And our district ranks in the lowest quadrant of Florida's funding for schools. Yet against tough odds, our district earned a B rating from the state Department of Education.

So with families moving in and new homes being built, we should be collecting plenty of money from impact fees, right? Not exactly. Home builders here have a lot of clout.

Consequently, newcomers who build a home today pay an education impact fee that's less than what they would have paid in 2005. Here's why:

• In 2005, the education impact fee in Hernando County for a single-family home was $4,266.

• In 2011, Hernando County commissioners suspended impact fees under pressure from home builders to "stimulate the economy."

• In 2013, Tindale Oliver, a Tampa-based consulting firm, published an update to the impact fee study, recommending the education impact fee be increased to $7,103.

• In 2015, the County Commission voted to end the suspension in 2016, but set the education impact fee at $2,133.

That's where we are today. Can you think of anything else you're paying for that costs less than it did in 2005?

By comparison, Pasco County collects an education impact fee of $7,128 per single-family home. Hernando County Administrator Jeff Rogers said he expects to issue 905 building permits for single-family homes this year. At the current rate of $2,133, that would yield $1.9 million in education impact fees.

If Hernando County raised its impact fee to $6,352, the level recommended by Tindale Oliver in 2018, and issued 905 permits, that would produce $5.7 million. Perhaps the fee should be even more.

Correcting the financial woes of the County Commission and the growing needs of our school district must begin with fairness and responsibility to those who already live here. Let's get a meaningful education impact fee passed now.

Gregg Laskoski is chairman of the Half-Cent Sales Tax Accountability Committee and a member of the Hernando School District's Planning and Growth Management Committee.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Stay with tampabay.com for the latest news and updates. Times
    The Challenger K-8 student didn’t have access to a gun, deputies said.
  2. Buster is a sweet senior available for adoption at Hernando County Animal Services. Hernando County Animal Services
  3. ALICE HERDEN | Special to the Times The Brooksville Blueberry Festival, held the last weekend of April in downtown Brooksville, brought visitors from locally and beyond.
    The Tourist Development Council heard proposals Tuesday and will vote on funding next month
  4. County Sheriff Al Nienhuis faces another contentious budget negotiation with the Hernando County Commission. [Times]
    Why are sheriff’s positions routinely left unfilled, and where does the money budgeted for them end up, asks the candidate challenging Sheriff Al Nienhuis.
  5. Hernando tourism director Tammy Heon places a sign in the new information center Monday.
    County tourism bureau moves into downtown Brooksville, saving thousands of dollars annually, the tourism director said.
  6. Hernando County Government Center
    Spending plan draws public rebuke and sharp words between commissioners, who are divided on the tax increase.
  7. Hernando County community news Tara McCarty
  8. Larry Duran, a 12-piece Latin band, will perform at the Hispanic Heritage Festival of Hernando County Sept. 21 at the Lake House. Vivian Rivera-Hernandez
  9. A study found that two of the worst intersections in the country for running red lights are in the Tampa Bay area. Tampa Bay Times
    Two intersections are among the worst for running red lights
  10. Volunteers work to refurbish a home as part of the Fuller Center’s Greater Blessings Program in Pasco County in August. Fuller Center for Housing Nature Coast
    Comedy show and dinner will help raise money for ministry working in Hernando, Pasco and Citrus counties and beyond.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement