State Politics

City considers eliminating impact fees

BRADENTON — A public hearing is planned to consider suspending impact fees for the city of Bradenton.

The Bradenton City Council Wednesday set a March 25 hearing to get public input.

Alan Anderson, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Manatee County, said the suspension could be beneficial for his members.

“I applaud and support Mayor (Wayne) Poston and the city council in doing this,” Anderson said, “and to help stimulate the economy locally.”

Local building company owner Evelyn Treworgy said she was happy to hear the city was thinking about eliminating impact fees for a year.

“I’ve been working with impact fees since their inception,” said Treworgy, president and CEO of Coastal Construction SW Inc., “and I always believed they were a regressive tax.”

She said, “At the end of the day, impact fees are not paid by the builder or developer, but by the home buyer.”

Anderson said impact fees can increase the price of a home by $15,000-$18,000.

“If that was pulled out of the cost of a home, it would put people who were just short that amount back into the market,” Anderson said.

He also said builders are looking at all the options available to them.

“It will help get people back to work,” Anderson said.

Treworgy, who has been in the construction business for more than 25 years, agreed, saying anytime the local or state governments can lower the costs for business it creates opportunities for businesses.

“This is a great step in making our area a business-friendly climate,” she said. “We need to help get people back to work.”

Municipal and county governments charge impact fees on new construction to pay for the projected increase in the use of public services, such as parks, public safety and roads, brought on by the development.

Since the housing downturn, Bradenton has seen a more than 75 percent decline in impact fee collections for parks, from $228,556 in 2007 to $53,567 in 2008.

In 2007, the city collected $288,191 to pay for fire and police impacts, and in 2008, it took in only $82,711.

The city did not have impact fees for roads until 2008, when it collected $23,966.

Anderson said most of the construction within Bradenton would be individual homes on vacant lots scattered throughout the city, as compared to large developments.

“A lot of the developers are looking at any opportunity,” he said.

There still is building activity happening in the city, according to Bradenton City Planner Tim Polk.

“There’s been some upgrade work on residents,” Polk said, “and some non-residential construction.”