published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Impact fees stay deferred
By ED BALDRIDGE
SEBRING -- County commissioners voted 5-0 on Tuesday to continue the suspension of development impact fees.
The fees were originally suspended in July of 2009. With its vote on Tuesday, the board extended that suspension until July 30, 2013.
Questions arose during the discussion from the audience about the impact to county revenue with the suspension of fees, which are calculated on building permits.
"How much money will we lose?" citizen Bill Youngman asked.
"If you could tell us how many buildings we will build and what size, I could tell you that," responded board chair Jack Richie.
Commissioner Don Elwell volunteered several figures concerning the lost revenue to date.
"From July of 2009 to June of 2010, it was approximately $1.4 million in revenue. From July 2010 to June of 2011, it was $1.5 million. From July of 2011 to June of 2012, it was approximately $420,000," Elwell explained. "The permitting has dropped from 175 to 59. We are trending less than half of the year before."
John Drennan, another Highlands County citizen, stressed to the commission that those building in the county do impact the infrastructure and he felt the fee should be reinstated.
"It really won't impact the community much, but we are losing between half-a-million to a million each. I think we should put it back," Drennan told the county commission.
"Somewhere between half a million to a million dollars. But you could also argue that we wouldn't have the development if we had the fees," Elwell said.
Elwell said the county was trying to reach a balance between development and fees, and that the construction industry has been hit hard by the recent downturn in the economy.
"We are trying to stimulate as much growth as possible," Elwell said.
"It was also discovered during the discussion that the city of Sebring had not approved the interlocal agreement for the original impact fees.
"It has been so long along, but this is not an issue until we reinstate the fees," said County Attorney Ross Macbeth.
It's BS (by: Ray Napper - 6/21/2012)
If you added all the taxes that I've paid for over 25 years it wouldn't come up to what they wanted to charge a new family moving in.
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