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Hillsborough considers doubling impact fees on new homes

If approved, development would jump to $28,000 per single-family house
New home construction in the Southfork Lakes subdivision in Riverview. The Hillsborough County Commission will discuss doubling impact fees on new residential homes Tuesday. .
New home construction in the Southfork Lakes subdivision in Riverview. The Hillsborough County Commission will discuss doubling impact fees on new residential homes Tuesday. . [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Apr. 27, 2020|Updated Apr. 28, 2020

TAMPA — Hillsborough County is considering a plan to double the impact fees charged on new home construction.

The idea, still in the discussion stages, would increase the fees for transportation, utilities and parks on a typical new single-family home from just less than $9,000 to slightly more than $18,000.

Combined with a previously-approved fee increase for schools, the cost to build a 2,000-square foot house in the urban service zone will go from less than $13,000 to approximately $28,000 if all the fee increases are approved.

The proposed fees, which vary according to the size of the house and the location where it is built, are scheduled to be discussed Tuesday afternoon during a Hillsborough County Commission workshop. Impact fees are one-time assessments on new construction to help pay for the roads, schools and other services needed to accommodate new residents and businesses.

Without dedicated funding "currently zoned and entitled development that continues to be built in areas of significant infrastructure deficiencies, even at a slower pace, will exacerbate an already unmanageable situation,'' state county documents to be reviewed by commissioners.

Part of the plan also represents a philosophical change in how fees are calculated. Since their adoption in 1985, park fees, for instance, have been earmarked for traditional parks and assessed only to new residential construction.

A draft study from the Maryland-based TischlerBise consulting firm suggests new fees should be charged on hotel construction and also be available to build trails, boat ramps, regional parks and active recreation complexes. The proposal calls for a $2,042 park fee for each new hotel room and for increasing the fee from $388 to $3,300 for a new single-family home.

“The parks impact fee — I think that’s ridiculous,’’ said Jennifer Motsinger, executive vice president of the Tampa Bay Builders Association.

She said the proposed fee increases are coming a time of economic vulnerability for the entire community and would make entry-level housing unaffordable for many. She also wondered about the timing of the proposal, given the just-approved school fee increase that yet to take effect.

“We’re having a hard time why there is such a big change in such a short period of time,’’ Motsinger said.

The builders group supported increasing the school impact fee from $4,000 to $8,596, which the commission adopted on a 6-0 vote in early March.

The transportation fee, known as a mobility fee, is calculated two ways. The current fee of $5,094 per single-family house is proposed to jump to $7,401 if the transportation surtax remains in place. If the Florida Supreme Court strikes it down and voters do no re-approve the sales tax, then the mobility fee should be increased to $9,183, according to the proposal.

Related: School impct fees are doubled in Hillsborough

Earlier this month, a commission majority balked at the suggestion of a rate increase for current water and sewer customers, but said they would listen to proposals for increasing impact fees to help expand utility service in the fast-growing southern portion of Hillsborough.

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The proposal calls for raising water and wastewater impact fees from $3,550 to $5,594 in the south county and for re-instituting a separate development fee for utilities that had been reduced to zero in 2014.The new plan calls for that second utility fee to be set at $1,822 per home.

Zeroing out that fee six years go was “profoundly unfair to residents here. Everything shifted onto their backs,’’ Commissioner Mariella Smith said in an interview. “There’s no way everybody who’s living here should pay the cost. They (developers) aren’t paying their way on water and wastewater costs.’’

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