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Saturday, Mar 28, 2015

Moratorium on education impact fees may get 1 year extension

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BROOKSVILLE - A four-year moratorium on educational impact fees for new homes will likely be extended for another year.

Hernando County commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday to direct staff to come back at a March meeting with an ordinance extending the moratorium for an additional year, which would mean the school district will have to do without $3 million additional revenue.

The school district last year voted to forward to commissioners an impact fee study, which included a maximum fee amount of nearly $7,000 for new residential single-family homes.

But the initiative needed approval from commissioners.

"It would completely crush the market," Commissioner Dave Russell said on Tuesday, noting that the economy has not rebounded sufficiently to warrant tacking on the $7,000 single-family home fee.

Commissioner Diane Rowden cast the sole vote in favor of the fees, saying schools need the money.

Without money from impact fees, the school district has had to use other funds to pay down debts incurred from growth, which has taken away from capital outlay for other maintenance projects, said Roland Bavota, director of facilities for the school district.

"(Commissioners are) going to bring forward on March 11 an ordinance that will extend the current moratorium for one more year, but other than that they gave no other direction as to what happens after that one year," he said.

Bavota said the commissioners' decision is especially disappointing since the school district has an estimated $73 million in maintenance repairs over the next five years.

Bavota said the last impact fee study was conducted in 2004-2005.

A study was conducted in 2007, but the school board voted at the time not to adopt it, so the 2004-2005 data has been in use since the most recent study.

"The school board just didn't want to talk about it," Bavota said. "We went through a heavy growth period during that time when everything was booming, and then the bottom fell out, which nobody could have anticipated."

Bavota said the district estimated over a 20 year period, it would collect $61 million in impact fees based on the new rate.

The 2013-14 education impact fee study, conducted by Tindale-Oliver & Associates, Inc., also included a maximum fee amount of $5,879 for a residential multi-family home or condominium, $940 for a residential mobile home within a mobile home park and $5,831 for a residential mobile home in a private lot.

The results of that study were not disputed by commissioners, who helped the school district fund the study last year, Bavota said.

Commissioners plan to revisit the ordinance in March for a final vote.

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