Letters to the Editor

Manatee County school board must reinstate impact fees on new homes

Manatee County "suspended" collection of school impact fees in July 2009 with a resumption scheduled for July 2013. As of this writing, collection of school impact fees has not been resumed and it is not apparent why.

Previously, school impact fees had been collected on new home construction, including single family homes, townhouses, mobile homes and other types of housing. Before they were "suspended," the fees ranged from $605 for mobile homes to more than $6,500 for stand-alone homes.

In the 17 months since those fees should have resumed, we can estimate that 5,000 or more new residences have been permitted in Manatee County. That represents $10 million to $15 million not collected that could have been used to help offset the cost of new schools needed because of the influx of families who will occupy those homes.

Impact fees may only be used for new or expanded public capital facilities required to serve new development. The school board has to approve collection of school impact fees. If funds are not available for construction of new schools, bonds are sold and everyone in the county will have to pay that money back plus interest.

It isn't right for present residents to have to pay for new schools for new residents, just as it isn't right for present residents to have to pay for new roads, water lines and expanded wastewater facilities for new residents. It is time for school impact fees to be resumed, and those not collected since July 2013 should be collected retroactively. That is the right thing to do. If you agree, contact the school board.

Edward Goff