TAMPA — Hillsborough Commission Chair Pat Kemp is seeking to drive around a potential Tallahassee roadblock to previously approved fee increases to help manage growth.
On Wednesday, Kemp plans to ask her colleagues to eliminate discounts on the transportation and park fees charged on new construction, because of proposed state legislation that would cap future increases.
The county’s impact fees for transportation and parks are scheduled for double-digit percentage increases in each of the next two years under plans authorized by commissioners in June 2020.
But, proposed state legislation would limit impact fee increases to no more than 3 percent a year. SB 750 is sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, and its House companion, HB 337, is sponsored by Rep. Nick DiCeglie, R-Indian Rock Beach.
Impact fees, often called mobility fees when dealing with transportation, vary according to the size of the house and the location it is built. They are one-time assessments on new construction to help pay for the roads, schools and other services needed to accommodate new residents and businesses.
A 2020 report from consultant Tindale Oliver had proposed increasing Hillsborough’s transportation fee from $5,094 to as much as $9,183 for a single-family home. Commissioners, however, agreed to assess it at 80 percent of that rate for the current year with 10 percent increases on Jan. 1 and Oct. 1, 2022.
At the same time, commissioners also approved a more expensive park fee from an average of $388 to $3,300 for a new, 2,000-square-foot, single-family home, but agreed to charge just 55 percent of that rate for the current year and increase it to 65 percent in 2022. It was the first time the park fee had been increased since its adoption in 1985.
The bills in Tallahassee would circumvent the county’s authority to complete the phased increases, Kemp said, and she is proposing to boost both fees to the full 100 percent rates by June 1.
“If the Legislature were to act we would be in a world of hurt again on both of these fees, because we haven’t enacted them at 100 percent and there was no reason in the world to enact them under 100 percent,” Kemp said.
The Legislature approved bills dealing with impact fee credits and other issues in 2020, but did not cap fee increases at 3 percent.
The phased increases are a familiar topic for commissioners. In December, Commissioner Mariella Smith broached the idea of eliminating the phases and charging the full transportation fee, but she was rebuffed by Commissioners Ken Hagan, Harry Cohen, Gwen Myers and Stacy White on a 4-3 vote.
Kemp said Monday she was confident that the outcome may be different this time.
Myers said Monday she didn’t believe the commission should be changing rules in the middle of the game, but also said she was unaware of the proposed legislation in Tallahassee.
The Tampa Bay Builders Association said the commission should affirm its previous commitment.
“Even though there are some commissioners that don’t like the decision that’s been made, I’m hoping a majority of commissioners will honor the decision and uphold it,” said Jennifer Motsinger, executive vice president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Builders Association. “They have gotten their pound of flesh. Now let’s make sure they’re spending the money as they should.”