A proposal to cap fees levied on developers to help Manatee County pay for the effects of new growth officials could cost the county as much as $2 million.
On Thursday, planning commissioners considered an ask by the board of county commissioners to cap the amount of impact fees at 90 percent of recommended levels, instead of increasing it to the planned 100 percent later this year. Planning commissioners were tasked with voting solely on whether the recommendation met the land development code.
Impact fees are costs of public services associated with new development. This includes law enforcement, libraries, transportation, public safety and parks. The fees, which the county has been collecting for the past 30 years, can’t be used for staffing or maintenance, but they can be used to build things like new roads or county buildings.
In 2015, the board of county commissioners voted for a fee schedule of 80-90-100 based on recommendations in a study by TischlerBise. Impact fees would be set at 80 percent of the recommended level starting April 18, 2016, then 90 percent the following year, then 100 percent in 2018.
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During a work session last spring, commissioners decided to take a look at capping the impact fees.
For a 2,000-square-foot single-family detached home, the 10 percent difference could mean between an extra $728 and $1,049 on the price, depending on which district the property is being built in. This fee doesn’t include utility facility investment fees, fire district fees or school impact fees.
According to Assistant County Attorney Bill Clague, impact fees in 2006 were at 100 percent and the county had to slash them in half during the economic crash.
Jon Mast, with the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association, which has lobbied both counties for fee reductions, said that there is an economic benefit to a reduced fee and suggested every $1,000 in impact fees prices out 100 homes.
“I find it absolutely, pardon me, absurd,” said Planning Commissioner Al Horrigan Jr. of the proposal.
All commissioners except for Horrigan voted in favor of recommending the cap proposal, with Planning Commissioner Timothy Rhoades absent.
Horrigan has been a constant proponent for a bridge in the Tara area, although it wouldn’t be able to use impact fees for its construction. John Osborne, county planning official, said the 44th Avenue East project was an exception.
“They need more money in the northeast district to build the Tara bridge,” Horrigan said.
Other critics of this proposal, such as the environmental group ManaSota-88, say that fees associated with residential and commercial growth should be paid in full by those building.
“County income will never be enough to cover all costs caused by growth unless impact fees are adequate,” the group wrote in a recent newsletter.
The board of county commissioners are set to discuss the proposal on March 1 and 20.