Reducing or cutting impact fees is a scam targeting taxpayers. The Florida Impact Fee Act states: "The Legislature finds that impact fees are an important source of revenue for a local government to use in funding the infrastructure necessitated by new growth."
In 2009 most Manatee County impact fees were cut 50 percent, school impact fees were suspended. The rationale was that lower impact fees would allow developers to sell houses for less, which would mean more construction and more jobs, which would stimulate the economy.
That sounds good, but who is paying for the infrastructure that impact fees would have covered? In some cases infrastructure projects were delayed because funding wasn't available. Jobs were lost because of that.
In other cases, bonds were sold because developers needed infrastructure to connect their developments. Taxpayers will have to pay back those bonds, including interest.
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The county has not collected over $90 million in impact fees since 2009. All that money would have been spent locally, which would have created many jobs.
So, where did that money go? Developers will say they reduced prices of houses so the home buyers benefited, but there is no proof that actually happened.
We do know that the developers are flush with cash and have offered to buy land from anyone who wants to sell it.
St. Johns County didn't reduce residential impact fees. "It remains one of the fastest-growing places in Florida, if not the nation."
Its population increased 54 percent from 2000 to 2010.
Residential construction is booming here, but there is no proof that growth resulted from impact fee cuts.
What we do know is that we have less infrastructure, bigger debt, a school system that is broke but needs at least three new schools, and a sales tax increase and millage increase is pending.