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Monday, Mar 30, 2015

Commissioners to tackle school impact fees


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BROOKSVILLE - School board officials are urging county commissioners to reinstate educational impact fees at their Tuesday meeting to help them recoup some of the $2 million they estimate they've lost since fees were suspended in November 2011.

But County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes said based on new-home permit data, any monetary bump the school district would receive from the approximately $7,000 per home fee would be miniscule.

The $7,000 figure was recommended by an impact fee study paid for by the school district and the county.

Further, reinstating impact fees would continue to cripple the sluggish building industry in Hernando County, Dukes said.

"The economy hasn't changed enough," Dukes said.

There will be a time when impact fees may need to be reinstated but not now, he added. County commissioners suspended impact fees in 2011 to try and boost the economy and even though data shows little improvement, the housing market is too fragile to heap yet another large fee on potential homeowners, according to Dukes.

But County Commissioner Diane Rowden said Friday she would prefer phased-in impact fees, starting at the $4,200 level in place when the moratorium was enacted in 2011 until it reaches the $7,000 mark as recommended by the consultant study. That could occur sometime in 2016, she said.

"We need to have these impact fees back in place," Rowden said. "Personally, they should never have had a moratorium on them, especially for schools."

Rowden said the future of Hernando County schools is at stake.

"This is really important for our school system so we can have the quality for the buildings and the students" she said.

Rowden questioned the need for an impact fee study that recommended reinstating the fees if the board was not going to follow its advice.

An impact fee is a one-time charge on new development to help pay for county roads, parks and other infrastructure.

Commissioner Jim Adkins, who has favored the continuation of impact fees in the past, now says he is more open to the other side and was busy this week reviewing documents provided by the school district.

"I'm still doing some research on it, just to see," Adkins said.

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