The issue of lowering impact fees and qualifying for access to a state grant for first-time home buyers to help kickstart the local economy will be discussed in today's county commission meeting.
If county commissioners vote to reduce impact fees in an attempt to kickstart the economy in Hernando County, we believe it will have a positive effect on new home construction. However, it won't be a landslide because we already have a large inventory of existing homes for sale.
We do believe that there could be a significant increase in activity in the resale real estate market which would aid Realtors, lenders and builders specializing in remodeling. The state program allows qualified new home buyers as much as $10,000 in down payment assistance from the $20 million available in the state fund. And while there may be other programs available, there is no harm in adding another one to help stop the free fall of our economy.
Other cities and counties in Florida have also looked at reducing fees to prime the pump of their local economies as well. There is some evidence in Orange, Charlotte and Nassau counties that shows a reduction in fees over the last year is helping. As reported in Hernando Today, Jeff Ruggieri, Charlotte County's Director of Growth management, stated there has been a significant increase in commercial construction. He also said there was an increase in construction of single-family homes but not as significant as that in commercial construction.
The reduction of impact fees alone should stimulate our economy. Reducing the cost of impact fees may encourage small businesses planning to expand to do it now rather than waiting. Moreover, this reduction would send a signal to local businesses that county government is willing to do its part to kick start our local economy. The economy has an effect on us all - business, government and individual taxpayers.
We encourage the commissioners to reduce impact fees by the required 25 percent so new home buyers in Hernando County can qualify for these state grants.
We believe the Realtors and builders will help by promoting to local homebuyers and businesses the benefits of these lower impact fees and the first time home buyer state grant program. The BOCC can help put people back to work by helping to kickstart our economy with this program.