Hillsborough transportation fees going up, but not full amount at once

County won’t charge full assessment on new homes until 2023.
Aerial photo of homes and new construction in the Southfork Lakes subdivision, Riverview on March 7, 2020.
Aerial photo of homes and new construction in the Southfork Lakes subdivision, Riverview on March 7, 2020. [ Times (2020) ]
Published Dec. 16, 2020

TAMPA — Transportation fees on new construction are going up in Hillsborough County next month, but not as high as Commissioner Mariella Smith wanted.

On a 4-3 vote, county commissioners rejected a pitch from Smith that would have added more than $1,800 to the fee charged on a new single-family home in 2021.

In May, the commission agreed to a phased approach to a fee increase with the full amount not being assessed until 2023. The fees still are going up Jan. 1, but only at 80 percent of the rate recommended by a consultant. On Wednesday, Smith advocated charging the full amount as soon as possible but met reluctance from a commission majority.

“The juice isn’t worth the squeeze,” said Commissioner Stacy White.

Related: Hillsborough commissioner seeks higher transportation fee

Consultant Tindale Oliver previously recommended increasing the transportation fee from it current level of $5,094 to as much as $9,183 for a single-family home. But, in May, under a suggestion from White, however, the board bumped the fee to $7,346 or 80 percent of the recommended amount on Jan. 1, 2021. It would climb to 90 percent of the full fee in 2022 and be implemented entirely the following year.

“The question is do we think developers should pay 100 percent of the transportation impact fees and to pay for the roads that serve their development. Or, do we think they should pay just 80 percent of those costs and make the taxpayers pick up the tab for the remaining 20 percent,” Smith asked the rest of the commission Wednesday.

But only Commissioners Kimberly Overman and Chair Pat Kemp agreed with her.

“We are changing the rules of the game,’' said Commissioner Gwen Myers.

Commissioner Harry Cohen, elected along with Myers in November, noted the economic uncertainty of the pandemic guided the commission’s decision in May.

“We are in no different state now than we were in May in terms of knowing the economic consequences of what we’ve been through,” said Cohen, who said a review of the fees would be more appropriate in May 2021.

The transportation fees, known as mobility or impact fees, are one-time assessments on new construction to help pay for roads and other transportation improvements to serve new residents and businesses. The county also charges impact fees for water and sewer service, public safety, and schools.

“I’m really glad to see a majority of commissioners honor the integrity of their vote,’' Jennifer Motsinger, vice president of the Tampa Bay Builders Association, said afterward.